CSW61 - Reporting from the un commission on the status of women event in new york
Last week, in
company with several ICJW women, I attended CSW61 NGO meetings in New York -
the Status of Women.
NGO delegates, the majority of them women, dedicated many hours daily to
attending side events and parallel events in and around the United Nations
building. As usual the choice of which meeting to attend was difficult, the
myriad issues of global women's organisations compelling.
the first side event in which ICJW was involved was lost in the cancellation of
every CSW session scheduled for Tuesday March 14 - the snowstorm day when
18" snow descended on New York.
' ACHIEVING WOMEN'S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT and Why 30% Women
Representation is Important'
could not be rescheduled.
day ICJW NY UN Representative Rita Fishman was involved in setting up the
TRAFFICKING and LABOUR: Accessorising
Our Lives at the Cost of Others
.' I found this full of
sometimes surprising information on the place trafficked people, mostly women,
in trade. P
companies and financial institutions need to be aware and responsible for their
actions. ICJW renews
to Stop the TRAFFIK , Fair Trade and other agencies which work to upgrade the
safety of workers,
particularly women and children.
report on this informative session is attached
On the next
day ICJW in partnership with UNICEF and Together for Girls sponsored the
STARTS WITH SAFETY - Adding Girls to the Global Agenda
' This was one of the best events I
have ever attended – the panel was mind- blowing in its speeches and discussion.
Brecher's report on this session can be found here.
sessions I attended included
Changing needs for Empowerment of
Women in the Context of
'Transformative Politics and Women's
' sponsored by the International
Women and the Korean National Council of Women.
For further information see the CSW61
March for women's rights!
As March unfolds there are some important dates for
the world’s women and a special date for Jewish women. ICJW is launching a
campaign to raise awareness of these important dates with the slogan #MarchForWomen.
If you have a Twitter account, please ‘Follow’ the ICJW account and retweet our
messages using the hashtag #MarchForWomen. Let’s raise awareness of all the
campaigns that go on year-round to make life better for women.
International Women’s Day
falls annually on March 8. This year’s campaign theme
is BE BOLD FOR CHANGE – an excellent theme, in my opinion. International
Council of Jewish Women has surely enacted this phrase throughout its century-
long history. But how unfortunate it is that women still need such a phrase,
confirming as it does that women continue to need many improving changes in their
And how about the push to women to be BOLD? Does that
suggest that over centuries and through the decades of our own lives, women
have been weak? We certainly know that that is not so! Please do celebrate
International Women’s Day, attend events in both the general and the Jewish
community. Send us reports on your affiliate’s activities with
photos for ICJW publicity.
International Agunah Day
, observed on the Fast of Esther, this year falls on
Thursday March 9, 2017. In 1990 the Fast of Esther was chosen as the most
suitable date by the International Coalition for Agunah Rights.
Agunah Day is observed around the Jewish world by
those who consider this an important issue – and that certainly includes ICJW:
we have been active for decades in support of women unable to obtain the get.
Again, please inform us and send photos of your observance of this date.
The coincidence of adjoining dates for these two most
important observances for women gives a push to all of us in International
Council of Jewish Women: we need to become more aware of the place of women in
ICJW Objectives include “To encourage each Affiliate
to work for the improvement of the social, economic and legal status of all
women under Jewish and civil law”.
March 2017 seems to be the ideal month in which to
reassess gender balance and opportunities for women in your own country and
your community, and become proactive in upgrading these.
From March 13-26 the
Commission on the Status of
will be held at the UN in New York.
Nine ICJW members will participate in this
large event, Madeleine Brecher is particularly busy as Co-Chair of the CSW61
ICJW is very pleased to be involved with three Parallel
Events during the first week of CSW. Our five capable UN NY NGO Representatives
have worked hard to set up these events with other organisations. For your
interest, and so you can recommend to women attending CSW61, these events are
Tuesday March 14
: THE BUSINESS OF PARLIAMENTS: ACHIEVING WOMEN’S
ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT AND WHY 30% WOMEN REPRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT.
Sponsored by ICJW (Representatives Judy Mintz and Joan
Lurie Goldberg), WJC, BPW, LWV, PPSEAWA, WFUW.
Wednesday March 15
: HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND LABOR : ACCESSORIZING OUR
LIVES AT THE COST OF OTHERS. Sponsored by NGO COMMITTEE TO STOP TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS. (ICJW Representative Rita Fishman).
Thursday March 16
: IT STARTS WITH SAFETY: ADDING GIRLS TO THE GLOBAL AGENDA.
Sponsored by ICJW (Representatives Fran Butensky and
Madeleine Brecher), UNICEF USA, Together For Girls.
Meantime in Geneva, our ICJW UN NGO representatives,
are extremely busy attending sessions of the month- long
. Both Leonie de Picciotto and Mary Liling have been long-term ICJW
representatives in Geneva, where three lengthy Human Rights Councils are held
While March is so important for women worldwide we
should also recognise that
HRC Annual Day on the Rights of
is on Monday 6 March.
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY - DECEMBER 10
Human Rights Day was established in 1948 during a period of reflection and rebuilding of global values.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly stated that all people must be treated equally, that each human being must be recognised and valued. The broad range of rights put forward in this declaration serves as a common standard for all peoples and all nations.
For decades International Council of Jewish Women has worked in the international arena as the voice of Jewish women. As a non - government organisation at the United Nations in New York, Geneva and Vienna, and at UNESCO in Paris, ICJW has upheld the principles of human rights, particularly the rights of women.
Each year Human Rights Day closes the 16 day period of activism against gender based violence; this begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The juxtaposition of these UN dates speaks to the insecurity of many women in our world today.
MY VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 2016
I was invited to attend the Interim Meeting of the
Union of Jewish Women of South Africa in Durban from March 13 -15, midway through
the term of their National Board. I spent two days before and after the Durban
meeting in Johannesburg, visiting projects and meeting members of UJW and the
A warm thank you to UJW President Lynne Raphaely and
to Durban Interim Meeting organiser Linda Nathan for UJW hospitality and also
for the opportunity to speak in some detail about the work of ICJW to different
audiences, a live broadcast from Chai FM and also a general radio station Radio
Today. The Johannesburg Jewish paper Jewish Report interviewed me about
ICJW (SEE BELOW). As always, ICJW's aim is to broaden the community's, as well as the
affiliate's, knowledge about ICJW and its influence both nationally and
ICJW had a strong presence in both Johannesburg and
Durban, I had the pleasure of spending time with all our eight ICJW Executive
members from South Africa. Particularly pleasing was the fact that three ICJW
Executive members received high honours from their organisation at the Interim
Meeting: Mina Sable was awarded Honorary Life President of the
Union of Jewish Women, Myra Goldenbaum Honorary Life Vice President and Jenny
Kahn, Honorary Life Member. Mazeltov to each of these capable women who work
for both UJW and ICJW. Also awarded an Honorary Life Vice President was Linda
Nathan who was the organiser of the UJW Interim Meeting.
ICJW's South African affiliate is a strong and
dedicated team in all six cities in which it operates. A large and varied
program including some outstanding specialist speakers made the Interim a
meeting to remember for the dozens of UJW members attending.
The UJW Interim Meeting was held in the Durban
Holocaust Centre, which I had the opportunity of touring with the chief guide
after the final day of the meeting. The Centre also houses a kosher cafe which
is run by longterm UJW member Judy Druck, mother of Linda Nathan, Durban
conference organiser. Needless to say, the kosher catering for the
meeting was excellent.
I was most impressed with the projects conducted by
the Union of Jewish Women in each of its branches in South Africa. There were
full reports on video film from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, East London,
Port Elizabeth and Pretoria, each demonstrating the care and concern for both
the African community and those in need in the Jewish community. An amazing
array of projects were described, many of them assisted by funding from
benefactors, with the work carried out by paid employees and supervised by
UJW members. I hope that UJW sections will send photos and information to
ICJW e- LINKs committee so we can all read about them.
In Johannesburg I had the opportunity to visit several
UJW projects, each of which was impressive and indicative of the tikkun olam
ideals of the organisation.
In the extremely poor township of Alexandra I visited
the feeding program in a church hall and met the employed African women who
prepare huge saucepans of hot food serving needy people of all ages, spooning
meals into plastic containers for them to take home to their families. In the
same building, an after-school care classroom is set up to both care for and
teach local youngsters who otherwise would wander the streets. UJW employs some
dedicated Africans to oversee these projects.
A wonderful program was the Self-Empowerment Sewing
School at Beit Emanuel, where I met several Africans enrolled in a free course
sponsored by UJW Johannesburg. For a period of three months, Monday to Friday,
women and men are trained by a teacher employed by UJW, and can then enter the
workforce with a secure skill.
My final appointment was at UJW Johannesburg House
where I enjoyed the weekly Friendship Club Luncheon, a happy gathering of fifty
or more elderly Jewish women and men served a three course meal in a
restaurant- like room. Live music by a singer / saxophonist made this a lively
On my final day I had lunch and a good chat with Ray
Wolder who had been unable to attend the Durban meeting. I also met with Rabbi
Julia Margolis and spoke about our mutual interest in Jewish women in
leadership roles, and about interfaith work.
My thanks go to all UJW members and their Jewish
communities for their warm-hearted welcome and hospitality to me as the
representative of ICJW.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY MESSAGE
On March 8, 2016 there will be worldwide activities marking the most
important date in the calendar for women globally.
Women’s Day was initiated in various countries in the early years of
C20. From 1914, International Women’s Day on March 8 has been observed
worldwide as a focus for action on women’s rights and gender balance.
The theme of International Women’s Day 2016 is PLEDGE FOR PARITY.
Within the Jewish world this theme can be applied to age-old issues for
which organisations like ICJW have been advocating through the decades. Ongoing
problems of Jewish divorce, the dilemma of agunot and the wish to upgrade
the status of Jewish
our faith have long occupied ICJW.
On a global stage, Women’s Rights remain a dominant issue in
international fora, including the NGO organisations within which our ICJW
representatives work. Let’s use our combined power to remind the world and the
Jewish world that women can and do achieve great results when they work
Join ICJW women all over the world in observing this
UN Day on Tuesday March 8!
MY VISIT TO MEXICO & CUBA
I recently returned from visits to ICJW
affiliate organisations in Mexico and Cuba. ICJW’s Latin American Regional
Conference was held in Mexico City in October. The conference theme "
for Jewish Women in C21"
excellent sessions including ‘
Ethnicity , religion, class and gender: the experience of Jewish women
ersonality and women's
and an inspiring session featuring a panel of
Mexican Jewish women entrepreneurs.
ICJW members from twelve countries attended
the conference, which was hosted by ICJW’s affiliate organisation Voluntarias Judeo Mexicanas.
members, dressed in their
trademark red blazers, provided a warm welcome to all guests, including members
of the twenty two Mexican Jewish women’s organisations which sustain the
community. Highlights were a guided visit to the remarkable
Memory and Tolerance Museum and an opportunity to enjoy the dancing of Anajnu Veatem
, the outstanding young Israeli Mexican dance group.
The Cuban Jewish community comprises many
converts to Judaism and proudly conducts
a Cheder for eighty children each week. A surprising fact is the large wedding
ceremony conducted every few years in which Rabbi Szteinhendler marries over twenty couples in
a single evening, in this way helping to maintain and grow the Jewish