Israel Election Results: Women Will Make Up Less Than a Quarter of the Next Knesset

Israel lags among comparable democracies in political representation of women

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Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli on Election Night.
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli on Election Night.Credit: Moti Milrod

The number of women elected to serve in the 24th Knesset will be lower than in the previous Knesset, according to the final, unofficial results presented on Thursday night by the Central Election Committee.

The final count shows that 29 women were elected to the Knesset on Tuesday, compared to 32 in the previous election. This means that just under 25 percent of the Knesset will be women lawmakers.

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Israel previously had one Knesset session that featured 37 female lawmakers. However, at least eight of those MKs only entered the Knesset in the months and years after the election itself, as a result of retirements and resignations within their party slates.

The 29 women who were elected on Tuesday represent 10 different political parties, the one with the highest number of women lawmakers being Likud, which also won the highest number of seats, while the party with the highest proportional representation of women will be Labor.

Four of Labor's seven Knesset Members will be women. Labor is also the only political party currently headed by a woman, and was also the first in Israeli history to hold a primary with a preexisting commitment to gender equality. After leader Merav Michaeli, the remaining candidates were alternately male and female.

The unexpectedly strong performance of the Kahol Lavan party led by Benny Gantz also aided female representation: three of the eight seats it has won will be occupied by women.

The second biggest party in the next Knesset, Yesh Atid, includes five women among its 17 prospective lawmakers, all handpicked by party leader Yair Lapid.

Somewhat surprisingly, considering the fact that most of its leadership proclaims a traditional “family values” ideology, a third of Religious Zionism’s lawmakers – two out of six – will be female.

Relative to its size, the largest party elected on Tuesday was less generous when it came to female representation. Of the 30 seats won by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, eight are set to be filled by women, just under a third.

Meretz lawmaker Tamar Zandberg watching the exit polls being announced on Election Night.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israel lags among comparable democracies in political representation of women. According to a 2020 government research study, it ranked 83rd out of the 189 members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union with regard to female representation in the legislature, and 27th out of 36 in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The country’s traditionally poor showing is largely attributable to the two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties represented in the Knesset, Shas and United Torah Judaism, which officially bar women from running for political office.

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s election, when Shas leader Arye Dery was asked about his party’s continued exclusion of women, he said the ranks of political leadership “isn’t a natural place” for women.

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