QUESTIONNAIRE / ‘There is yet so much to do’

Na'amat head Galya Voloch believes the real road to change in society starts with education

Galya Voloch (photo credit: Courtesy)
Galya Voloch
(photo credit: Courtesy)

What issue gets you out of bed in the morning?

The wage gaps between genders. It is so frustrating that although we have very advanced legislation, women still earn less. I believe that we have to make it a strategic target to eliminate this disgraceful situation.

What issue keeps you up at night?

The exclusion of women in the public arena. I can’t stand the idea that in certain sectors of society women are been pushed to the rear seats of a bus, women are not allowed to show their faces on public ads, sing in public or speak on the radio. I believe that we have an obligation to put an end to these patterns.

What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far?

A difficult moment for me is when we have to turn down a child who applied to one of our daycare centers. It is out of my hands. The number of children and prioritization of applications is in the hands of the Finance Ministry. Yet I know that it will cause this young family to spend thousands of shekels more (money they don’t have), on a private day-care center. This is the reason why we fight constantly to increase the number of public day-care centers.

How do you celebrate your achievements?

I stop for a brief moment to feel the satisfaction. But then immediately it hits me that it is only a small achievement and there is still so much to do. So I gather myself and move on, back to work.

If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?

The first thing I would change is our education system. In my view the road to a real change in our society starts at the very beginning – education. Tolerance, equality, accepting diversity – they all start from educating our youth from a very early age.

Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her?

I would have made a movie about the writer Devora Omer. Her stories touched our lives for generations.

Many youngsters, (including myself) were raised for decades with her stories. She wrote stories about the heroes and heroines that made our history, while her own story was tangled in the heroic founding of the State of Israel.

What would you change about Israelis if you could?

The way we drive and treat one another on the road. If we could learn how to be a little more patient and tolerant of each other on the road, we can save so much pain and waste of precious lives.

So many people have lost their loved ones for no good reason.

iPad or pen and paper?

iPad, BlackBerry and the king – iPhone. I don’t remember how life used to be before we had them. They keep me connected to the world all the time. My schedule, contacts, e-mails, text and of course pictures. I am always glad to learn a new technological trick or gadget that will make my life easier.

If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?

I would invite them to feel the Israeli warmth – warm weather, warm people – year round. At the end of the day coming to Israel is like coming home to a loving family.

What is the most serious problem facing the country?

The gap between men and women. We’ve come a long way in the past 25 years, but we are far from solving the problem. The number of women in high-ranking positions, in the workplace or in politics, is less than satisfactory. The glass ceiling is still very much alive and kicking.

There is still a long way to go.

How can it be solved?

We can start by adjusting the workplace to the needs of working parents and working mothers in particular. Flexible hours, allowing employees to work from home, are simple means that can help us break the glass ceiling.

In 20 years, the country will be:

I hope that Israel will see more equality and accept all diversities. I hope that every woman in Israel will be able to experience equal opportunity and safety both in the personal and public arenas.

Name: Galya Voloch

Age: 46
Profession: Head of Na’amat women’s organization
Place of Birth: Petah Tikva
Current Residence: Tel Aviv