The Representation of Women in Israeli Politics: A Comparative Perspective

Chen Friedberg, Assaf Shapira, Ofer Kenig, Reut Itzkovich-Malka

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


For the past decade, the issue of women’s representation in the political
arena has taken center stage in academia and in public discourse.
Underpinning the debate is the normative assumption that women’s
representation in politics, and parliaments in particular, carries
great importance: it is consistent with the values of equality and
representativeness, grants legitimacy to the democratic-liberal regime,
and helps inculcate a view of women as citizens of equal standing with
Some would argue that women’s parliamentary activity is essentially
different from that of men, in part because women parliamentarians
tend to deal with issues related to the status of women in society and
to promote women’s interests to a greater extent than do their male
counterparts. According to this thesis, “descriptive representation,”
meaning a high proportion of women in parliament, is a precondition for
“substantive representation,” that is, the advancement of the interests and
viewpoints shared by women. From a historical perspective, although
there has been a genuine improvement in women’s parliamentary
representation in many countries in recent decades, in most cases
equality has still not been achieved. This has led countries and parties
that are aware of the importance of this issue to implement institutional
measures aimed at improving women’s representation in the political
This policy paper is an attempt to contribute to this important
debate. To this end it examines women’s representation in politics over
the years, and the factors affecting it, compares women’s representation
in Israel with that in other countries, and analyzes how descriptive representation of women in the Knesset influences their substantive
representation. The study also assesses the institutional mechanisms
adopted in Israel to enhance women’s representation in the Knesset, and
proposes strengthening and supplementing the existing measures.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationJerusalem
Number of pages198
StatePublished - Jan 2016


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