It has been five years since the Attorney General ordered the Ministry of Religious Affairs to ensure adequate gender representation for women in religious councils and in their senior management postings, yet the ministry and the minister in charge continue to choose to ignore the adequate representation demand. A survey conducted by religious freedom- and equality-promoting non-profit organization Hiddush determined that in about 80% of religious councils, there is no female representation whatsoever in council management. It additionally uncovered that in practice, in the vast majority of Israeli localities, in which religious council makeup has not been refreshed, the councils continue to be managed solely by men, whose tenure the minister has extended, at times many years ago. To correct this reality of women’s exclusion, we have submitted, together with Hiddush, Itach-Maaki lawyers for social justice, the Israel Women’s Network and Naamat, a petition to the High Court, demanding that it obligate the Ministry of Religious Affairs to discontinue the exclusion of women, and ensure adequate gender representation in all religious councils.
As brought up in the petition, it has been five years since the Attorney General ordered that adequate representation be granted to women in the makeup of religious councils, and in such senior appointments as “superiors”, yet in practice, the reality remains unchanged, and the exclusion of women continues. The petitioners are now demanding that a conditional court order be issued, and that the Ministry of Religious Affairs be required by law to ensure adequate gender representation in religious councils, to renew their makeup despite the absence of an elected government over a prolonged period of time, to equitably appoint women as superiors in charge of religious councils, the makeup of which has not been renewed, and to refrain from repeat extensions perpetuating the exclusion of women from these public posts, contrary to law and legal ruling, and to the direct injury of the public.