The Entry and Integration of Women into Judicial Positions in Israel
Gender and Judging (Ulrike Schultz, Gisela Shaw, Hart Publishing) (Forthcoming)
Posted: 27 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 25, 2013
From a numerical point of view, women are today a majority in the judiciary in Israel. The beginning of the change and feminisation of the legal profession in Israel is usually dated as the 1970s. The question is when did women's entry into these positions begin, what enabled it and what prevented or halted their integration? I wish to show that the seeds for this success story were not sown in the 1970s, but in the time of the British mandate of Palestine, at the end of the First World War. Although at that time women's integration into the formal legal state systems was not possible, women did serve as judges in informal, non-state courts. I propose that this served as the foundation and training for their subsequent own, or their successors', legal activities after the foundation of the state. The process of integration was largely enabled by and due to: (1) the involvement of women's organisations, which recognised the potential of integrating women within legal frameworks – both during the Mandate and shortly after the foundation of the state; and (2) the private action and independent initiative of the first women lawyers, called to the Bar during the Mandate years. I demonstrate the existence of two ladders – private and collective – which women climbed in order to reach the top of the legal pyramid.
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