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WIZO Olive Trees at the United Nations

The traveling exhibition that began as a coexistence and women's empowerment project in Afula, makes it to the UN in Geneva.

April 19, 2016

UN7

After touring the European continent the exhibition, "Women and Their Olive Trees" made its way to the Palais des Nations in Geneva on March 15, 2016, to coincide with the 31st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, thanks to the cooperation of the Permanent Mission of Israel and the collaboration of WIZO Switzerland. The exhibition's 35 paintings of olive trees, a well-known symbol of peace, were drawn by Jewish, Christian, Circassian and Muslim women from Afula and the surrounding area, as part of project meant to promote and symbolize coexistence in the northern region of Israel, organized and supported by the WIZO Community Center in Afula. Sheila Dvor Casdi, the art initiative's visionary and curator, who was in attendance, explained, "It was important to me to make a connection though art and painting and to find women artists who wanted to have open dialogue, to connect and to learn from each other."

The opening of the exhibition, a UNOG Cultural Event attended by 130 diplomats, art lovers and NGO representatives, was an opportunity to discuss the exhibition's goals of tolerance and women's empowerment.

Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of World WIZO, explained, "The participants in the projects undergo a deep personal and collective process through creation and group meetings, even during complicated days of warfare and terror. The exhibition symbolizes women's strength at its best and conveys a message of hope."

Ambassador Eviatar Manor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN in Geneva, expressed his opinion that the exhibition "carries a strong message of hope. The olive is one of the seven species the Bible associates with the Holy land. Furthermore, the olive tree is a common heritage of all the peoples and geographical regions of the Mediterranean. It is also a symbol of peace, which we hope to enjoy in our corner of the world sooner rather than later." The ambassador also spoke about women's empowerment and gender equality, in light of International Women's Day, an annual day, launched by the UN, highlighting women's rights around the world. Francesco Pisano, Chair of the UNOG Cultural Activities Committee, added, tying together the two subjects, "In many instances, women hold the key to conflict transformation and peace making."