World WIZO's quadrennial conference, held in Israel, brings together hundreds of international Jewish female leaders for a week of thought, reflection, decision-making and celebration
Over 700 WIZO chaverot from 40 different countries, including the US, Australia, the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa, will gather next week at the 26th World WIZO EGM (Enlarged General Meeting) in Tel Aviv. These women, leading figures in their respective Jewish communities, will act as representatives of WIZO's legion of 250,000 worldwide volunteers.
The WIZO EGM convenes once every four years in Israel, in order to present and debate essential issues on Israeli and Jewish agendas, including the status of women in the State of Israel and Zionist institutions, narrowing of social gaps, empowering at-risk communities, and deepening the connection between Israeli and international youth.
At the conference, WIZO sets out its policies and platform for the coming four years in the fields of education, welfare, and the status of women. The conference is also the forum for elections of World WIZO's president, chairperson of the executive committee and the executive committee itself.
In the words of outgoing President, Tova Ben Dov,"WIZO continues to situate itself as the most meaningful Zionist organization for Jewish women in Israel and the world. Only with the activity of our international federations spread across the globe, which do sacred work on a volunteer-only basis, can WIZO be a serious and life-changing therapeutic and educational agent for the different populations in need of its services. There's still a lot of work to be done; we have a long way to go in the fields of women's empowerment, educational equality, family welfare, supporting weak communities, and strengthening connections with worldwide Jewry."
The upcoming EGM will take place between the 17th and 21st of January at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv, with the theme of "Women Leading Change" and in celebration of the organization's 95th anniversary.
At the conference, WIZO chaverot will take part in a wide array of discussions, lectures and workshops. They'll meet local leaders, business executives and social activists who managed to create change in various social and economic areas, as well as women from WIZO institutions whose own lives changed drastically because of their connection with the organization.
Among the subjects of the workshops and panel discussions will be issues like dealing with anti-Semitism and the de-legitimization of Israel, advocacy for Israel, Israel's current economic and social challenges, cultivating leadership, gender inequality, fundraising in the age of a financial crisis, and many more.
Guests, speakers and participants in the conference's various events will include Moshe (Bogey) Ya'alon, Minister of Defense, Gila Gamliel, Minister for Social Equality, Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv, MK Manuel Trajtenberg, prominent lawyer Ami Palmor, General Manager of Intel-Israel, Maxine Fassberg, Manager of Google Education - Israel, Adi Altschuler, former MK and Senior Fellow of the Jewish People Policy Institute, Dr. Einat Wilf, founder of Israeli heritage brand "Maskit," Ruth Dayan, and Paralympic athlete and 2015 world champion rower, Moran Samuel.
On Tuesday January 19th WIZO directors, leaders and conference delegates will spread out across Israel for a day of touring and visiting WIZO's wide array of projects, including: youth villages, women's shelters, day care centers and schools.
The climax of the EGM conference will undoubtedly be the "farewell ceremony" marking the end of the tenure of World WIZO President Tova Ben-Dov, whose WIZO career spans 51 years and includes a range of volunteer and executive positions.
At the conclusion of the conference WIZO will publicize a list of decisions and planned implementations concerning its support of Jewish communities in the Diaspora and its work in support of underprivileged communities in Israel.
Professor Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, speaking on WIZO's work in the field of gender equality, adds, "WIZO's demonstration of female power delivers a clear and unequivocal message about the place of women at the forefront of action as leaders of the Zionist and Jewish ethos. Recent incidents of sexual harassment and the lack of true gender equality in all forums clarify the challenge that stands before us: the creation of a just and equal society – a society that is also equitable toward weak communities lacking in resources. WIZO, with the backing of the strongest Jewish communities in the world, will continue to be a beacon for women in Israel and will work toward a fair society. On the international level, the fact that hundreds of women from around the world are coming to Israel reflects our ability to cope with disturbing phenomena of the de-legitimization of Israel around the world. Only powerful and solid communities which maintain a brave connection with the State of Israel can deal with rising criticism against the Jewish state."