Arab Women in the Labor Market

This position paper reports on the status of Arab women in the labor market, barriers that impede their integration into jobs, and proposals for removing these barriers

It is not uncommon to hear declarations by senior policymakers that the advancement of women in general, and Arab women in particular, is key to the advancement of society as a whole. Yet a huge gap persists between these declarations and their implementation, such that the economic, social and political status of Arab women is today among the lowest – if not the very lowest – in Israeli society.

This position paper reports on the status of Arab women in the labor market, barriers that impede their integration into jobs, and proposals for removing these barriers.

In 2005, Arab women constituted only 5.6% of all women in the civilian labor force of Israel (Central Bureau of Statistics, 2005) . The proportion of Arab women who are in the civilian labor force has remained virtually unchanged over the past decade: 16% in 1995 and 18% in 2005 (CBS, 2005). In contrast, almost 56% of Jewish women were in the civilian labor force in 2005 (CBS, 2005).

Many attribute the deplorably low number of Arab women in the labor force to cultural factors. Below we present non-cultural barriers that prevent Arab women from integrating into the labor force.