Major party leaders courted the female vote on Monday, at a conference of Israeli women's organizations. Trying to mitigate the expected low female voter turn-out, candidates focused on different ways to promote egalitarianism in Israel.
Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni protested against the marginalization of women in Israeli security decisions and vowed that she "won't let us be pushed aside; Israeli government does not belong to the generals." Expressing her concern that the majority of citizens expected to abstain from voting in the upcoming election are women, she told the female participants that the power for change was in their hands.
"Anything is possible if you get out of the house in order to get more women to represent your ideology. The question of how many women representatives there will be is up to you," she said.
She recounted how, since the primaries, women from all sectors have stopped her to tell her she gives them hope.
Livni's rival, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, also spoke at the conference and explained his plan for promoting gender equality. "It's a worthwhile investment, which I intend to focus on starting 2010, if we succeed in forming a government."
'This isn't charity'
He promised that his government would create a committee to investigate and ensure the implementation of equality in the workplace and the appropriate treatment of battered women or those who are denied a divorce certificate.
He added that his government would bring about "a gradual solution to the issue of child-rearing, including subsidies for daycares." This, he said, would allow more women to return to the workplace who are unable to do so today.
Labor Chairman Ehud Barak said that there were "good odds" that a Labor-headed coalition would contain women. He noted the Scandinavian system, in which female representation stands at 45%, as an ideal model.
"I believe that the advancement of women required unadulterated effort. This isn't charity. We're talking about half the population," he said. "If more women break the glass ceiling, we'll be a more efficient and united society."
Regarding the advancement and assimilation of women in the IDF, Barak said "women are now being exposed to military fields that were previously men only… We're one of the only nations with a female fighter pilot."