Israeli Women, Part 2: Island of Progress in a Dark Sea
Let’s take Israel first. A survey in 2012 ranked Israel 11th among the 59 developed countries for women’s participation in the workplace and 24th for the percentage of women in executive positions. So Israel—smack in the Middle East, a democratic country surrounded on all sides by nondemocracies—not only ranked among the developed countries on these measures but came in well above average and solidly above average.
The proportion of women in Israel’s Knesset (parliament) now comes to 23%. Some comparisons—U.S., 18%; United Kingdom, 23%; France, 27%; Scandinavian countries come in highest in the 40% range. Some Arab countries like Algeria (32%), Tunisia (27%), and Iraq (25%) also score considerably; more typical are Egypt (0%), Oman (1%), Lebanon (3%), and Kuwait (6%). It should also be kept in mind that all the Arab parliaments have limited powers if any as these countries are dictatorships.
Israel has also had a woman prime minister, Supreme Court judges (as noted), and cabinet ministers, phenomena mainly or totally lacking in the Arab world. As I described last week, women are increasingly filling combat and officers’ roles in the Israeli army, phenomena not to be found in Arab armies.
Israeli women are also, as Michael Curtis notes in another article,
the best educated women in the Middle East. Over half have gone to institutions of higher learning. About 60 per cent of university students and graduates are women…. Women constitute about a quarter of university faculty.