Bridey Heing
Updated Mar 16, 2015 @ 10:34 am

In Israel, one political party is learning the hard way that the way to woo women voters is not by playing up sexist stereotypes. The Yahads, an ultra-Orthodox political party, recently offered women supporters a surprise at a campaign rally: chocolate bars. Though the “ladies be chocoholics” inference here is bad enough, the wrapper is what has made women across the country speak out against the party’s leadership.

Each chocolate bar’s wrapper included cleaning tips for Passover: “Divide your Passover cleaning into 20 individual tasks that are easy to complete. Each time you finish one—reward yourself with square of chocolate. You’ll be amazed how, in just 20 days, how you will have finished everything and reached your goal! That’s when you’ll deserve a really big square of chocolate!”

Whoa! Not cool! Ultra-Orthodox women, who have long sought greater representation in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, are not thrilled with what Yahad-leader Eli Yishai called a “positive and sweet” gesture. Zahava Gal-On, a female leader from the liberal Meretz party, called Yishai out for this condescension and explained that it’s time for men to step up to the plate with household chores. “You simply won’t believe how in just 20 days, it will transform you into someone who thinks twice before he degrades women,” she said, according to The Jewish Daily Forward.

One Facebook user had this to say: “Really? You’re giving me cleaning tips AND chocolate? You shouldn’t have! Now I can vote Yahad happily. After all, who needs female representation in the Knesset or a party that really grapples with issues that affect religious women? Who needs any of that, when finally, someone has shown us support by offering us chocolate!”

Ultra-Orthodox women have long been marginalized even within their own parties, and their Yahad representation is no different. No women are featured in any campaign materials, and there are no women in positions to enter the Knesset along with the party. Even women who have long been active in public life have been sidelined in favor of men. Women have been trying to make their voices heard, and the creation of the group “No Female Candidate, No Female Votes,” which advocates boycotting parties without women as Knesset candidates, has brought the conversation into the mainstream.

But Yahad’s chocolate bars are a reminder of how far ultra-Orthodox parties have to go before women are going to be given an equal voice.

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