Israeli Election Ads Overlooked Female Voters, Says New Study

Female voters and the issues that affect them received short shrift in televised advertisements related to the country’s May 29 national elections, according to a study initiated by the Israel Women’s Network.

Just 17 percent of the 1,966 individuals featured in the televised campaign ads were women, the study showed.

And when these women did appear, they were often anonymous figures. Names and titles usually were not mentioned.

Women also appeared in the ads for shorter periods of time than their male counterparts, and the women who were featured seemed to be younger than 40.

According to the findings, the advertisements also differed by political party.

While a whopping 60 percent of advertisements prepared by the left-wing Hadash Party featured women, only 29 percent of the Meretz and Shas ads met this criterion.

Labor trailed with 17 percent, while Likud had the unwelcome distinction of featuring women in just 9 percent of its campaign broadcasts.

Issues of special interest to Israeli women — equality between the sexes, the representation of women in decision-making positions, longer school days, reproductive rights, women in the army — lagged behind such issues as security, the status of Jerusalem and the peace process.

However, the issue of violence against women “received considerable attention,” the survey found.

“These findings are very disappointing,” Leslie Sachs, director of the Women’s Network, said this week in an interview. “They show that women’s issues are low on the agenda set by those who decide party policy. In most cases [Israeli women] have not yet managed to penetrate these positions.”

Sachs dubbed the study’s findings “surprising” in light of that “when you talk to the parties, they acknowledge that the majority of their voters are women.”

“If this is so, did they bother to do a survey to see what issues concern their voters?” she said. “The findings speak for themselves.”

By the time the next campaign rolls around, Sachs said, “we hope to put women’s issues on the national agenda.”

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