Main Barriers in Arab Women’s Employment in Israel: Public Transportation and Daycare Centers

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This report reviews the barriers that Arab women face in integrating into Israel’s employment market. It focuses on two major barriers, about which academic and professional literature are of one mind with regard to their impact: the lack of adequate public transportation and the lack of facilities for children under the age of three (toddler daycare centers).

In the first decade of the 2000s, when the public debate began about their low participation and its effect on the Israeli economy, various government decisions were made (including within the framework of five-year plans) that set goals for increasing their employment rates alongside programs to encourage employment. Three major government resolutions were passed during this period: Resolution No. 1994, which set a 40% employment target by 2020; Resolution No. 198, which set a 53% employment target by 2030; and Resolution No. 550, which set a 46.3% employment target for Arab women of prime working age by 2026.

These government decisions merely committed to reduce gaps, rather than achieving substantial equality between Arab and Jewish citizens. To wit, the employment target for Arab women that is supposed to be achieved by 2030 is 53%, while the rate of participation of Jewish women already today stands at 83%. This shows that even if the goals set by the government are achieved, the inequality between the two groups will persist and Arab women will still be at the bottom of the ladder of participation in the labor market.

Five-year plans, however good they may be, are an uncommon way to correct distortions and close gaps but they do not ensure the equal fulfillment of the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens with regard to the allocation of basic resources and services. As explained in the report, budgets allocated through these programs are often not fully utilized, or at best are used only partially.

In a reality where Arab localities are afflicted by infrastructure gaps totaling billions of shekels, it is not enough to allocate budgets in five-year plans that hinge on the goodwill of governments motivated by political considerations. What is needed is a commitment anchored in law to take steps to promote formal and substantial equality, both in the implementation of egalitarian policies and allocation of resources. This does not guarantee an equitable application of the policy, but it is an initial and necessary step to monitor the implementation of such decisions.

To improve the fulfillment of the civil rights of Arab citizens, Zulat proposes a series of amendments to laws and regulations that would strengthen the obligation to factor equality into decisions pertaining to the approval, creation, budgeting, and subsidization of daycare centers and transportation infrastructure. These proposals could enhance oversight by civil society and state authorities (especially the legislature and the judiciary) over the implementation of equality and the reduction/expansion of inequalities.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.