Women played significant roles in the emergence of Zionism and since statehood have made dynamic contributions to the state’s growth and well-being.
While complete gender equality has often been elusive, Israel stands as a model for women’s rights in both the Middle East and among other democracies. From the period of the Yishuv (the Jewish Community in pre-state Palestine) until today, women have contributed to virtually every aspect of Israeli politics and society; including defense and security, government and leadership, social action and arts and culture.
In the 1990s, the Knesset created a special committee for women’s issues. Today there is an official Authority for the Advancement on the Status of Women as part of the Prime Minister’s office. In recent years, the Knesset has passed laws that ensure non-discrimination based on gender. Controversial issues regarding gender equality in Israel today relate to tensions between religious and secular Jews. In the current Israeli parliament of 120, 23% are women, as compared to 20% in the US Congress, 18% in European parliaments, and less than 7% in Arab countries.
Click here for a list of women who have made significant contributions to Israel in politics, culture, business and science. (This is by no means an exhaustive list, but one that is meant to represent the vast contributions that women have made to Israel’s growth and development. Have a suggestion for additional people who should be included here? Feel free to contact us with your suggestion.)
Abdo-Zubi, Nahla, and Ronit Lenṭin. Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation: Palestinian and Israeli Gendered Narratives of Dislocation. New York: Berghahn Books, 2002.
Abdo-Zubi, Nahla. Women in Israel: Race, Gender and Citizenship. New York: Zed Books Ltd, 2011.
Atkinson, Linda. In Kindling Flame: The Story of Hannah Senesh, 1921-1944. New York: Beech Tree Books, 1992.
Azmon, Yael, ed. Will You Listen to My Voice—Representation of Women in Israeli Culture. Tel Aviv: Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House (Hebrew), 2001.
Azmon, Yael, and Dafna N. Izraeli. Women in Israel. Vol. 6. Studies of Israeli Society. New Brunswick, N.J. (U.S.A.): Transaction Publishers, 1993.
Baskin, Judith R. Jewish Women in Historical Perspective. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998.
Baumel, Judith Tydor. “’Teacher, Tiller, Soldier, Spy’? Women’s Representations in Israeli Military Memorials.” 93-118. Gender and Israeli Society: Women’s Time, ed. by Hannah Naveh. Tel Aviv: Vallentine Mitchell, 2003.
Ben-Zvi, Rachel Yanait. Before Golda: Manya Shochat: A Biography. Biblio Press, 1989.
Bernstein, Deborah. Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-state Israel. Albany: State University of New York, 1992.
Bernstein, Deborah. The Struggle for Equality: Urban Women Workers in Pre-state Israeli Society. New York: Praeger, 1987.
Biale, David. “Zionism as Erotic Revolution.” 176-203. Eros and the Jews: from Biblical Israel to Contemporary America. University of California Press, 1997.
Chesler, Phyllis and Haut, Rivka. “The Fight Against Being Silenced,” 115-133. “The Politics of Women of the Wall,” 180-204. Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism’s Holy Site. Jewish Lights, 2002.
Dajani, Souad. “Between National and Social Liberation: The Palestinian Women’s Movement in the Israeli occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.” 33-61. Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change, ed. by Tamar Mayer. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Diament, Carol, and Lily Rattok. Ribcage: Israeli Women’s Fiction. New York: Department of Jewish Education, Hadassah, 1994.
El Or, Tamar. “Paradoxes and Social Boundaries: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and their World.” ed. by Fuchs, Esther. Israeli Women’s Studies: A Reader. New Brunswick: NJ, Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Espanioly, Nabila. “Palestinian Women in Israel: Identity in light of the Occupation.” 106-120. Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change, ed. by Tamar Mayer. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Feinberg, Miriam P., and Miriam Klein. Shapiro. Hear Her Voice!: Twelve Jewish Women Who Changed the World. Cedarhurst, NY: Pitspopany Press, 2006.
Feldman, Yael S. No Room of Their Own: Gender and Nation in Israeli Women’s Fiction. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.
Freedman, Marcia. “Theorizing Israeli Feminism 1970-2000.” 1-16. Jewish Feminism in Israel, Some Contemporary Perspectives. University Press of New England, 2003.
Fuchs, Esther. Israeli Women’s Studies: A Reader. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Fuchs, Esther (ed.) Israeli Femininst Scholarship, Gender, Zionism, and Difference, Austin: University of Texas, 2014.
Gidal, Nachum Tim. Henrietta Szold. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House Ltd., 1997.
Greenspahn, Frederick E. Women and Judaism: New Insights and Scholarship. New York: New York University Press, 2009.
Halperin-Kaddari, Ruth. Women in Israel: A State of Their Own. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.
Harris, Rachel Sylvia. Warriors, Witches, Whores: Women in Israeli Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2017.
Hay, Peter. Ordinary Heroes: The Life and Death of Chana Szenes, Israel’s National Heroine. New York: Paragon House, 1989.
Henriette Dahan-Kalev, “Mizrahi Feminism: The Unheard Voice,” 96-112. Jewish Feminism in Israel, Some Contemporary Perspectives. University Press of New England, 2003.
Herzog, Hanna. “Are Women Really Equal in the People’s Army?: A Gender Perspective on the Israel Defense Forces.” Women and Gender Perspectives in the Military: An International Comparison, edited by Robert Egnell and Mayesha Alam, by Melanne Verveer, Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2019, pp. 153–172.
Herzog, Hanna. Gendering Politics: Women in Israel. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.
Herzog, Hanna. “Women in Israeli Society,” 195-217. Rebhun, Uzi, and Waxman, Chaim. Jews in Israel: Contemporary Social and Cultural Patterns. Brandeis UP.
Israeli Foreign Ministry, “Women in Israel: Report on the Status of Women in Israel.” 2001.
Jacoby, Tami Amanda. “Gender Relations and National Security in Israel.” Redefining Security in the Middle East, edited by Tami Amanda Jacoby and Brent E. Sasley, Manchester University Press, Manchester; New York, (2002) 83–104.
Jacoby, Tami Amanda. Women in Zones of Conflict: Power and Resistance in Israel. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.
Kahn, Susan Martha. “’The Time Arrived but the Father Didn’t’: A New Continuum of Israeli Conception.” in Reproducing Jews. Duke University Press Books, (2000): 9-53.
Kandiyoti, Deniz, ed. Gendering the Middle East, Emerging Perspective. London: I.B. Tauris, 1996.
Kark, Ruth, Margalit Shilo, and Galit Hasan-Rokem. Jewish Women in Pre-state Israel: Life History, Politics, and Culture. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2008.
Katz, Sheila H. Women and Gender in Early Jewish and Palestinian Nationalism. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2003.
Kraus, Vered. Secondary Breadwinners: Israeli Women in the Labor Force. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.
Levin, Marlin. It Takes a Dream… The Story of Hadassah. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House Ltd., 1997.
Lomsky-Feder, Edna, and Eyal Ben-Ari. The Military and Militarism in Israeli Society. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1999.
Lomsky-Feder, Edna Sasson-Levy. Women Soldiers and Citizenship in Israel: Gendered Encounters with the State. Oxon: Routledge, 2018.
Mayer, Tamar. “From Zero to Hero: Masculinity in Jewish Nationalism.” 97-120. Israeli Women’s Studies. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000.
Mayer, Tamar. “Heightened Palestinian Nationalism: Military Occupation, Repression, Difference and Gender.” 62-87. Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change, ed. by Tamar Mayer. New York: Routledge, 1994.
McCune, Mary. “The Whole Wide World Without Limits.” International Relief, Gender Politics, and American Jewish Women. Edited by Jonathan Sarna, American Jewish Civilization Series. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005.
Meir, Golda. My Life. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1975.
Rachel, Robert Friend, and Shimon Sandbank. Flowers of Perhaps: Translated by Robert Friend with Shimon Sandbank. New Milford (Conn.): Toby Press, 2008.
Raday, Fransis, Carmel Shalev, and Michal Liban-Kooby, eds. Women’s Status in Israeli Law and Society. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Schocken Publishing House (Hebrew), 1995.
Raider, Mark A., and Miriam B. Raider-Roth, eds. The Plough Woman: Records of the Pioneer Women of Palestine. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2002.
Reiter, Yitzhak. “Religious Feminism or Feminism within Religion?: The Women of the Wall and Al-Aqṣā Murābiṭāt.” Uses of the Past: Sharī’a and Gender in Legal Theory and Practice in Palestine and Israel, edited by Irene Schneider and Nijmi Edres, 1st ed., Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2018, 203–215.
Reinharz, Shulamit and Mark A. Raider. American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise. Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2005.
Sasson-Levy, Orna. “Gender Performance in a Changing Military: Women Soldiers in Masculine Roles” 265-278. Israeli Women’s Studies: A Reader. Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Sered, Susan Starr. “The Militarized Body.” What Makes Women Sick? Maternity, Modesty and Militarism in Israeli Society. Brandeis, 2000.
Senesh, Hannah. Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Pub., 2004.
Sharoni, Simona. Gender and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Politics of Women’s Resistance. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995.
Sharoni, Simona. “Homefront as Battlefield: Gender, Military Occupation and Violence against Women,” ed. by Tamar Mayer. Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change. London: Routledge, 1994.
Shilo, Margalit. Girls of Liberty: The Struggle for Suffrage in Mandatory Palestine. Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press, 2016.
Simmons, Erica B. Hadassah and the Zionist Project. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC., 2006.
Svirsky, Gila. “The Women’s Peace Movement in Israel.” 113-131, ed. by Kaplana, Misra and Melanie S. Rich, Jewish Feminism in Israel: Some Contemporary Perspectives. University Press of New England, 2003.
Swirski, Barbara, and Marilyn Safir. Calling the Equality Bluff: Women in Israel. New York: Pergamon Press, 1991.
Watzman, Haim & El Or, Tamar. Next Year I Will Know More: Literacy and Identity Among Young Orthodox Women in Israel. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002.
Yishai, Yael. “Dilemmas in the Political Life of Israeli Women” 1-26. “Women’s Associations and Movements.” 57-90. Between the Flag and the Banner: Women in Israeli Politics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.
Zion-Waldoks, Tanya. “Mind the Gap: The Cost of Overlooking Gender in the Jewish Nation-State Question.” Defining Israel: The Jewish State, Democracy, and the Law, edited by Simon Rabinovitch, Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, 2018, 193–206.
Alroey, Gur. “And I Remained Alone in a Vast Land.” Women in the Jewish Migration from Eastern Europe.” Jewish Social Studies, 12, no. 3 (Summer 2006): 39-72.
Ben-Porath, Yoram. Gronau, Reuben. “Jewish Mother Goes to Work: Trends in the Labor Force Participation of Women in Israel, 1955-1980.” Journal of Labor Economics, 3:1 (1985): 310-327.
Berg, Gerald M. “Zionism’s Gender: Hannah Meisel and the Founding of the Agricultural Schools for Young Women.” Israel Studies 6:3 (Fall 2001): 135-65.
Berkovitch, Nitza. “Motherhood as a National Mission: The Construction of Womanhood in the Legal Discourse in Israel.” Woman’s Studies International Forum 20:5-6 (1997): 605-619.
Bernstein, Deborah, and Hannah Ashley. “The Soul of a New Yishuv: Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel.” Bridges 5:2 (Winter 1995): 94-100.
Bernstein, Deborah. “The Plough-women Who Cried into the Pots-the Positions of Women in the Labor Force in Pre-state Israeli Society.” Jewish Social Studies 45:1 (1983): 43-56.
Birnbaum, Paula J. “Modern Orthodox Feminism: Art, Jewish Law, and the Quest for Equality.” Contemporary Israel: New Insights and Scholarship, edited by Frederick E. Greenspahn, NYU Press, New York, 2016, 131–165.
Boumel, J. T. “The Heroism of Hannah Senesz: An Exercise in Creating Collective National Memory in the State of Israel.” Journal of Contemporary History 31:3 (1996): 521-46.
Brush, Candida. Hisrich, Robert. Lerner, Miri. “Israeli women entrepreneurs: An examination of factors affecting performance.” Journal of Business Venturing, 12:4 (1997): 315-339.
Chazan, Meir. “The Struggle of Kibbutz Women to Participate in Guard Duties during the Arab Revolt, 1936–1939.” Journal of Israeli History: Politics, Society, Culture 31:1 (2012): 83-108.
Chazan, Naomi. “Israel at 70: A Gender Perspective.” Israel Studies 23:3 (2018): 141-51.
Cicurel, Inbal and Sharaby, Rachel. “Women in the Menstruation Huts, Variations in Preserving Purification Customs among Ethiopian Immigrants” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 23:2 (2007): 69-84.
Daoud, Nihaya et al. “Intimate Partner Violence Prevalence, Recurrence, Types, and Risk Factors Among Arab, and Jewish Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Women of Childbearing Age in Israel,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence (April 2017).
Daoud, Suheir Abu Oksa. “Women and Islamism in Israel,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 37:3 (September 2016): 21–46.
Erdreich L. “Strategies Against Patriarchy: Sexualized Political Activism of Palestinian Women on Campus,” Israel Studies 11:1 (2006): 35-58.
Fenster, Tovi. “Ethnicity, Citizenship, Planning and Gender: The Case of Ethiopian Immigrant Women in Israel.” Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 5:2 (1998): 177-189.
Fogiel-Bijaoui, Sylvie. “Women in Israel: The Social Construction of Citizenship as a Non-Issue.” Israel Social Science Research 12:1 (1997): 1-30.
Geva, Sharon. “Case Closed: Women in the Israel Police, 1948–1958.” Israel Studies 24:1 (2019): 100-25.
Granek, Leeat et al. “Women and Health in Israel,” The Lancet 389:10088 (June 2017): 2575–78.
Greenfield, Zvia. “Is it Really Benign? Gender Separation in Ultra-Orthodox Bus Lines.” Law and Ethics of Human Rights 1:1 (2007): 237-270.
Hacker, Daphna. “Inter-Religious Marriages in Israel: Gendered Implications for Conversion, Children, and Citizenship.” Israel Studies. 14:2 (2009): 178-197.
Hassan, Manar. “The Politics of Honor: Patriarchy, the State and the Murder of Women in the Name of Family Honor.” Israel Studies 21, (2006): 1-37.
Hassan, Manar. “Growing Up Female and Palestinian in Israel.” Israeli Women’s Studies: A Reader, (2005): 181-189.
Helman, Sara, and Tamar Rapoport. “Women in Black: Challenging Israel’s Gender and Socio-Political Orders.” British Journal of Sociology 48 (1997): 682-
Herbst, Anat “The Legitimacy of Single Mothers in Israel Examined through Five Circles of Discourse,” Israel Studies Review 28:2 (Winter 2013): 228-246.
Herzog, Hanna. “Why so Few? The Political Culture of Gender in Israel.” International Review of Women and Leadership 2 (1996): 1-18.
Herzog, Hanna. “Homefront and Battlefront: The Status of Jewish and Palestinian Women in Israel.” Israel Studies 3:1 (Spring 1998): 61-84.
Hollander, Aviad Yehiel. “Halachic Multiculturalism in the IDF: Rulings of Official Religious Authorities in Israel Concerning ‘Women’s Singing’.” Modern Judaism 34:3 (2014): 271-86.
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Jabareen, Yosef. “Reducing Poverty among Arab and Muslim Women: The Case of Arab Women in Israel.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, 16:3 (2015): 117-136.
Kaplan S., Rosen, C. “Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel: Between Preservation of Culture and Invention of Tradition.” Jewish Journal of Sociology 35:1 (1993): 35-48.
Klorman, Bat-Zion Eraqi. “Women Resisting Men: Inheritance and Disinheritance in the Yemenite Jewish Community in Mandatory Palestine.” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues, 11 (Spring 2006): 126-141.
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Kuntsman, Adi. “Double Homecoming: Sexuality, Ethnicity and Place in Immigration Stories of Russian Lesbians in Israel.” Women’s Studies International Forums 26:4 (2003): 299-311.
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Lahav, Pnina. “”A Great Episode in the History of Jewish Womanhood”: Golda Meir, the Women Workers’ Council, Pioneer Women, and the Struggle for Gender Equality.” Israel Studies 23:1 (2018): 1-25.
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Meler, Tal. “Palestinian Women Citizens of Israel Working in Agriculture – A Retrospective Concerning Ibtisam Ibrahim’s 1993 Article “the Cucumber Pickers”.” Israel Studies 23:2 (2018): 74-94.
Melman, Billie. “The Legend of Sarah: Gender Memory and National Identities (/Israel, 1917–90).” Journal of Israeli History 21:1-2 (Fall 2003): 55-92.
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Or, Ofra, “Midlife Women in Second Partnerships Choosing Living Apart Together: An Israeli Case Study,” Israel Studies Review 28:.2 (2013): 41-60.
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Remennick, Larissa. “Women with a Russian Accent in Israel: On the Gender Aspect of Immigration” European Journal of Women’s Studies 6 (1999): 441-461.
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