March 8, 2010
International Women’s Day this year is being marked at the United Nations as part of the Beijing +15 Review Conference. In 1995, the United Nations convened the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, one of the largest ever organized by the UN.
It brought together more than 17,000 participants, including 4000 NGO representatives. The culmination of the conference was the unanimous adoption by all 189 member states of the landmark Beijing Platform for Action, which identifies a range of actions for governments, the UN, and civil society to undertake regarding the advancement of women. Fifteen years later thousands of women have gathered in New York to share their experiences since Beijing and exchange ideas about the effectiveness of the good practices that have been adopted. The goal is to move forward together to what hopefully will be the next step in removing the remaining obstacles to gender stereotypes, unequal access to economic and financial resources, and violence against women, among other issues. The ultimate objective remains full gender equality and global empowerment for women, and, in this respect, there are challenges that still have to be met.
The ICJW delegation to the Beijing +15 Conference, as part of the Commission on the Status of Women for 2010, was composed of the ICJW Permanent Representatives to the UN in New York, Madeleine Brecher, Joan Lurie Goldberg, Judy Mintz, and Fran Butensky (Phyllis Gottdiener was unfortunately unable to attend because of health reasons), who were joined by past ICJW presidents June Jacobs (UK) and Sara Winkowski (Uruguay), incoming president Sharon Gustafson (USA), ICJW vice-president Donna Gary, and myself.
The large number of participants and the fact that the UN premises in New York are undergoing renovations caused great crowding and confusion. Many had to be turned away from events for lack of space, which was extremely frustrating for those who had traveled from very far in order to be part of those very discussions.
ICJW co-sponsored, with the International Council of Women and WIZO, an excellent panel on “The Advancement of Women’s Equality Through Empowerment,” which was very well attended. ICJW also supported events on “Commercial Sexual Exploitation and the Girl Child: Promising Prevention and Reintegration Programs,” as part of the Working Group on Girls of the NGO Committee on UNICEF, of which we are a member, and “Older Women: 15 Years Later—Where Are We Now?” as part of the NGO Committee on Older Women, to which we also belong.
At the annual ICJW Reception to mark the CSW we were honored to host the Israeli Ambassador to the UN Professor Gabriella Shalev and members of the Israeli governmental delegation to the CSW, as well as leaders of ICW, the European Women’s Lobby, local and international organizations. The reception was held this year at the Simon Wiesenthal Tolerance Center, which afforded ICJW the opportunity to support the aims of the Center to promote good will, understanding and tolerance among all peoples.
As we will soon be celebrating the 100th anniversary of ICJW’s founding, how fitting it is on this International Women’s Day to reflect on the many milestones in our history connected to the advancement of women and of Jewish women and the unending pursuit of full equality for all.
With best regards,
President, International Council of Jewish Women