New women’s party aims to be surprise of election

NY-born founder: Party not anti-men, but no guys on list

The new women’s party Kol Hanashim (Voices of Women) (photo credit: KOL HANASHIM)
The new women’s party Kol Hanashim (Voices of Women)
(photo credit: KOL HANASHIM)
Could a new party led by women for women be what makes the difference in ensuring that the March 2 election leads to the formation of a new government?
That is what the founders of the new women’s party Kol Hanashim (Voices of Women) are hoping. They say they want to make sure a government will be formed, so they would enter the coalition if they succeed in crossing the 3.2% electoral threshold.
Kol Hanashim’s founding executive director, hi-tech entrepreneur and economist, Sarah Nadav, expressed confidence that the party will get enough votes to be a player when the next governing coalition is formed.
“People voted twice in a row for parties that failed to form a coalition,” she said in an interview in Tel Aviv. “I think if people saw something different, fresh and new that they could believe in, they are not going to stick with parties that failed them twice.”
Kol Hanashim has been a work in progress for five years, formed by a diverse group of women who have been talking about the idea since 2015. They are currently finalizing the bureaucratic steps needed to register to run by next Wednesday’s deadline.
“We kept pushing off running until this election was called and we said yalla balagan (let’s get on with the mess),” Nadav said.
Kol Hanashim has made a commitment to diversity, to represent the needs of all the different sectors of Israeli society , including Jews from secular to haredi (ultra-Orthodox), Arabs and immigrants from English, Russian and Amharic speaking countries.
Nadav herself made aliyah from Rochester, New York, has founded two hi-tech start-ups and is part of the World Economic Forum’s expert network as a behavioral economist. She consults for companies, governments and non-governmental organizations.
The 45-year-old mother of two sons used to work for American Friends of Likud and is credited with introducing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Nadav will run on the party’s list but will not reveal any additional candidates yet.
“There are famous people interested and we will decide who will best represent our cause,” she said. “But we believe in bringing to this campaign fresh faces and new ideas. We are planning to run on our own, because our agenda is important to us, and we don’t want to water it down or compromise. We believe we will get enough seats on the strength of the ideals we are working toward.”
After Nadav found herself homeless after a difficult divorce six years ago, she said she is disappointed in how the system in Israel is failing families and she has innovative ideas for fixing it.
The party’s ideals include gender equality, fighting violence against women, ending poverty and enabling civil marriage and divorce. The party would like to see 61 women in the Knesset, equal pay for equal work and women participating in every key meeting of the government and IDF.
“In hi-tech 97.2% of the funding goes to men and 2.8% goes to women, and that hasn’t changed in 10 years,” Nadav lamented. “The Start-Up Nation needs to do better to support its female entrepreneurs. Women also get significantly less money for their sports teams even if women’s teams are better.”
Regarding divorce, the party supports enabling mothers to work and fathers to have opportunities to be with their families. The party backs stipends for pregnant women and extending paternity leave for men.
“That is what real equality is, not being restricted to gender roles that are predetermined,” Nadav said. “We are not an anti-men’s party.”
But asked if there would be a token man on the list, Nadav swiftly rejected the idea.
“We are asking the public to nominate women to fill the 120 slots on our list,” she said. “There are more than enough mens’ voices in the Knesset. We don’t need to worry about promoting a guy on our list.”