International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Womens Rights in Israel and Throughout Middle East

One of the biggest differences between Israel and her Arab neighbors is in the area of women’s rights. This is obvious even glancing a typical street scene in Israel, where women move about freely, dressed as they wish, and in nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where women must wear head coverings in public and must either be accompanied by a male relative or have the permission to travel.

Women in Israel
Israel has long offered her female citizens – regardless of ethnicity or religion – full freedoms, including the right to vote, freedom of speech, equal access to education and the workplace, and no special restrictions on the way they dress. By law, women are protected from discrimination. In fact, Israel’s Declaration of Independence grants “all Israel’s inhabitants equality of social and political rights irrespective of religion, race, or gender.”

In 1951, three years after declaring statehood, Israel passed legislation guaranteeing women equality in work, education, health, and social welfare. The Committee on the Status of Women advances legislation on issues related to women’s rights. A policy adopted by Israel’s Ministry of Education ensures that Israel’s schools provide equal opportunities for members of both sexes.

Throughout Israel’s short history, dozens of women have served in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament). Ten women have served as cabinet ministers, and currently 34 percent of judges in Israel are female. When she was elected in 1969, Prime Minister Golda Meir was Israel’s first and the world’s third female prime minister.

Arab World Realities
Women in the Arab world enjoy few of the rights and legal protections that women in Israel enjoy. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women are not allowed to vote, drive a car, or go outdoors without everything – including their hair, wrists, and ankles – covered. In Iraq, women cannot own property and they inherit less than half of what their brothers do simply because of their gender. In Syria, if a woman wants out of a dangerous marital union, she must navigate a complicated legal process that typically takes up to two years to complete, while a husband can divorce his wife simply by telling her “You are divorced” three times.

Throughout the region one of the most troubling issues is “honor crimes,” or the killing of a wife or female family member for alleged sexual misconduct. While these accusations require little evidence, the honor crimes themselves are rarely investigated or prosecuted. Many women in these countries also battle domestic violence, which is not considered illegal in much of the region, and lack access to education.

Israel – The Model
It’s interesting to note that the constitutions in many nations throughout the Middle East include language and laws ensuring the rights of women. The problem, women and researchers say, is that many of these laws are not consistently upheld – and are often simply ignored. In Israel’s commitment to upholding the rights of women, both in law and practice, the Jewish state offers a model for the entire region, and stands as a beacon of freedom and equality in a sea of oppression.

What do you think?

  • Moshe
    July 14, 2013
    2:22 am

    Were so lucky to have a nation like Israel in the middle east where gender equality is displayed to show examplary ways of treating woman and also allow them to have rights and privilidges woman are very precious figure not only in Israel but to the rest of the world.

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  • Brittany
    June 1, 2011
    8:29 am

    The statements written above are very true. although Israel was not always a place of equality, all of that changed when Jesus came to earth, and to Jerusalem. May God forever dwell in Israel.

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  • Richard
    April 11, 2011
    1:21 pm

    Yahweh!…Praise be to God. He will be with the blessed Israel forever.

    God bless the world’s women! Israel will lead the way to freedom of the oppressed.

    Reply to this comment »
  • yvette
    April 9, 2011
    7:04 pm

    Israel is a beacon of hope for women in the middle East.I truly love and pray for Israel that they will continue to prosper always.

    Reply to this comment »
  • marsha
    April 8, 2011
    8:07 am

    I’m in agreement with Doreen.I must also say that property are eg cars ,houses and furniture,we have left the era of buying people.(i hope)so we women are not any ones property we are wives, sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers and neice’.s

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  • Harriet
    April 8, 2011
    2:14 am

    Iam a two time visitor to Israel and I can testify to that. I really commend the sanctity and diginty accorded to life generally and especially of the women and visitors. I believe one needs to actually visit Israel to dispel all the negative propanganda about it.

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  • john
    April 7, 2011
    7:01 pm

    God did indeed create all mankind equal.
    Good on Israel for honoring women as equals.

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  • nursella
    April 7, 2011
    6:10 pm

    yhumb up to the Israeli constitution. I like the respect that they give to the opposite sex.”poor Arabs women, i feel sorry for them’ – What bondage!!!!!!!!!

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  • Debra
    April 7, 2011
    5:08 pm

    Israel shows love and appreciation for women, just as Jesus did. He was the first to show women equal treatment and respect.

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  • Susan
    April 7, 2011
    3:28 pm

    I appreciate Israel’s constitution and the freedom it affords men and women. I am sorry for Arab women who live in such circumstances as described above.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Doreen
    April 7, 2011
    3:18 pm

    So Proud of Israel for modeling how women should be respected and treated and given the same opportunities as men. In my view women in the Arab world are more “Property” of the man, and they have few rights. I think Arab men are very insecure to allow their women to be all that they can be.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Leo
    April 7, 2011
    3:07 pm

    I am in full agreement with the above

    Reply to this comment »
    • mary
      April 12, 2011
      8:30 am

      I agree with it. May the Lord bless the Nation of Israel for showing the whole world a good example

      From Kenya

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