Record number of women standing to become mayors


A record number of women are to stand in next week's municipal elections all over Israel.

There will be 40 women standing for mayor, or head of local councils, in the elections, representing a 40 per cent increase over the 2003 elections.

Female representation in this political sector is lower than in the Knesset, where 14 per cent of members are women. There are 245 municipalities and councils in Israel but there have only ever been 10 female mayors.

Flora Shoshan, the head of Mitzpe Ramon's local council who is standing for re-election, is the sister of Amir Peretz. The elections will be something of a family affair for the former Labour party leader, whose wife, Ahlama Peretz, supported by Labour and Likud, is standing for Mayor of Sderot.

"Being Amir's wife helps and hinders me," explained Mrs Peretz, "but I think that the silent majority of Sderot residents are proud that Amir comes from here."

Nana Chen, an independent, is considered favourite to win in Or Yehuda, near Tel Aviv, where two of the three candidates are women.

However, Dr Riki Shay, whose campaign slogan for the Ashkelon Mayoralty is "be a man and vote for a woman" and Asma Agbariya, the only Arab woman standing and who is contesting Tel Aviv, are unlikely to triumph.

Elsewhere, Charedi candidate Aviva Hajbi has defied the local rabbinate in Netivot to stand for mayor, although out of considerations of modesty does not feature a picture of herself in campaign ads.

A record 4,000 women are candidates to become councillors in the elections compared to 2,700 in 2003, when 205 women were elected.

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