Women's organizations demand gender equality in lists running for Knesset

MK Lavie: Notice to voters must be written in feminine and masculine, not just in masculine.

Knesset (photo credit: BAZ RATNER)
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER)
Lists running for the 20th Knesset should have an equal number of candidates of each gender, female leadership NGOs WePower and Yedid wrote in a letter to party leaders this week.
“The lack of proper representation of women is very clear in the Knesset and the government,” the letter reads, pointing out that there are only 27 female MKs out of 120 in the previous Knesset and only four female ministers in the government until recent weeks. Now there are only two.
Several other major women’s organizations signed the letter, including WIZO, Na’amat, Emunah, and The Israel Women’s Network.
“The upcoming election is an opportunity to shrink the unreasonable gender gap in the Knesset and government,” the NGOs wrote.
“Over 50 percent of the population is female. The public expects egalitarian lists.”
The organizations called for true equality, as opposed to just symbolic slots reserved for women.
WePower director Liel Even-Zohar pointed out that haredi parties refuse to run female candidates, calling their policy disgraceful for a democratic state.
“We support haredi women in their struggle for appropriate representation. Their battle is that of every person who believes in equality,” Even-Zohar stated.
Meanwhile, Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women and Gender Equality chairwoman Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) called for election notices to be written in both the feminine and the masculine forms.
The poll station notice sent to every eligible voter before an election has always been written in the masculine. Lavie took issue with the postcard’s referring only to a male voter. Lavie wrote a letter to the Central Election Committee on Sunday demanding that the text of the postcard be changed.
In Hebrew, references to a mixed-gender group are written or said in the masculine, though some feminists, like MK Merav Michaeli (Labor), find the grammatical rule sexist.
Michaeli speaks to groups in the feminine.
Sometimes documents include a line that says that, although the text is in the masculine, it applies to both genders.
“The notice to voters, which is sent by the Interior Ministry to citizens ahead of an election, is written only in the masculine,” Lavie wrote. “This notice ignores 50% of the population and a large group of voters.”
The Yesh Atid MK added that the time has come to change the message so it refers to both genders and requested that it be done before the election in March.