Nitzan Senior recognized gendered struggle in politics early on in her career. After losing a student union election at The Hebrew University during her master’s program, Senior realized how difficult it had been to compete in a traditionally male arena. Inspired by her experience, she founded Young Women Politicians to help other women enter politics.
“I participated in many leadership programs in Israel and abroad, and the women always leaned toward leadership in the social arena,” Senior said. “No one talked about politics . . . but that’s where influence lies.”
Four years ago, during the last year of her master’s program in Political Communication and Gender Studies, Senior began to formulate ideas for the program. The student union chose to fund her and she also participated in an incubator for social programs organized by PresenTense. She developed her initiative, conducted a survey, and discovered that women were greatly interested in entering politics, even though they didn’t know how. Young Women Politicians was launched the following year.
By the year after, two more chapters of Young Women Politicians had opened. Today, as director of the initiative, Senior oversees 5 teams of 2 coordinators spread throughout Hebrew, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Ben Gurion University. Three additional schools – Bar Ilan University and Sapir and Oranim Colleges – are interested in bringing the program to their campuses.
The program’s lectures, workshops, and mentorship and skills-building sessions are starting to pay off. Six graduates of Young Women Politicians ran in the recent local and national elections.
Senior says that Shatil’s recent training for new CEOs was life-changing.
“Shatil’s outstanding training gave me critical knowledge, tools, ideas and tips for doing my job better but most of all, it changed my perception of myself: I am now a confident leader who can take responsibility, make decisions and get things done. I fully stepped into my position.” Senior’s project also won grant from NIF.
A journalist during the day, Senior says she wishes she could devote herself to the Young Women Politicians project full-time, but at the moment, everyone involved is a volunteer.
“Women in politics is not just a women’s issue, it’s a social issue,” says Senior. “A democratic society needs women. Our programs’ goal is not to advance women but to make Israel better. If there are more women in politics, Israel will be a better place.”