Israel plummets 23 spots in gender equality index to 83rd in the world

Israel has closed only 70.1% of gender gap, according to World Economic Forum report; current government criticized for lack of female representation, with only 6 cabinet ministers

A group photo of the 37th Government of Israel, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 29, 2022 (Avi Ohayon/Government Press Office)
A group photo of the 37th Government of Israel, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 29, 2022 (Avi Ohayon/Government Press Office)

Israel placed 83rd out of 146 countries in an annual ranking of gender equality released earlier this month, plummeting 23 spots from 2022.

The findings were issued by the World Economic Forum, whose Global Gender Gap Report benchmarks gender-based gaps in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

Israel’s score was 0.701, which means that it has closed 70.1% of its gender gap across the four measured fields and still has a 29.9% gender gap on average. The country was down from a score of 0.727 last year and saw its worst score in a decade.

It also fell from the top equality spot in the Middle East and North Africa region, coming in second to the United Arab Emirates.

Israel fell from 52nd in 2022 to 82nd this year in the ranking for women in parliament. In the ranking for women in ministerial positions, it fell from 63rd to 109th place.

In economic participation and opportunity, Israel fell from 69th place last year to 75th place this year, with 68.8% of the gender gap now closed.

In health and survival, it actually improved slightly from 111th place to 109th place. But in political empowerment, it plummeted from 61st place to 96th place.

The report was released six months after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established Israel’s 37th government, which has come under fire for — among other things — its lack of female representation.

Just six of the 32 members of the cabinet — the most right-wing in Israel’s history — are women: Transportation Minister Miri Regev, Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman, Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan, Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel, National Missions Minister Orit Strock and Minister for the Advancement of the Status of Women May Golan.

Illustrative: A cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on March 12, 2023. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Only two directors-general of the various ministries are women.

The two ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition, Shas and United Torah Judaism, have no women on their electoral slates, while the far-right religious Otzma Yehudit has only one. Among the 64 MKs in the coalition when it was sworn in, just nine were women.

The last government had nine women in a cabinet of 27. There were also nine ministry director generals who were women during the most recent coalition — an all-time high.

In February, a group of three women’s rights NGOs filed a petition to the High Court asking it to rule that open director spots be filled with female appointees. At the time, out of a total of 31 vacancies, the government had appointed 23 directors-general to its ministries, all of them men.

In the 2023 Global Gender Gap Report, Iceland ranked as the world’s most gender-equal country for the 14th year in a row after having closed 90% of its gender gap.

Iceland was followed by Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia, Lithuania and Belgium.

The countries with the least amount of gender equality were Afghanistan, Chad, Algeria and Pakistan with Iran being ranked last.

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