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international conference of women leaders

International Conference of Women Leaders hosted by the Council of Women’s Organizations in Israel at World WIZO Headquarters Tel Aviv.
In her capacity as president of the Israel Council of Women's Organizations (CWOI), WIZO Israel chairperson Gila Oshrat hosted a lunch and reception for the delegates, with the opportunity to meet with members of women's organizations in Israel.

They came from all over the world, from over 30 different countries, all high-profile women, each with the empowerment, advancement and gender equality of women as their goal.
Special guests were three current women ambassadors to Israel – from Finland, Latvia and Estonia. The scene was set with a rousing performance of song and dance from the students of WIZO's  Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village.

Aviva Kohlmann, deputy president CWOI, who has been involved with the International Council of Women for over 18 years emphasized what a wonderful platform it is for women to come together from all over the world, including many whose countries do not have diplomatic relations with each other: "These women have become a 'sisterhood' and have developed deep friendships."

The conference was under the auspices of MASHAV (Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem), The Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC), Haifa, and in cooperation with UN Women and  the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP.)

The subject of the conference was the "Post-2015 Sustainable Goals Agenda: Ensuring the centrality of gender equality and women's empowerment in the next framework." This subject stems from the UN 2015 target date for the Millenium Development Goals – many of which have an emphasis on gender equality and women's empowerment.

Delegates attended plenary sessions with many workshops in different language groups, interspersed with visits to the Technion, the Knesset, and meetings with members of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women.

In her address, Gila Oshrat outlined the history of the movement for human rights and gender equality, starting with the French Revolution. "It is true that Israel has the most advanced legislation concerning gender equality, and the status of women has greatly

improved during the course of the years, mainly due to the activities of the women’s organizations, activities that began at the beginning of the last century." Although women

in Israel have advanced in many fields, there is still much gender discrimination in Israeli society. There are not enough women in high-level decision-making roles. "Although today we have the highest number of women members of parliament since the establishment of the State (27), this number only represents 22% of Knesset members."

Gila went on to describe the work of the CWOI, which was established some 60 years ago and is an umbrella association representing nine Israeli women’s organizations, all of which work for the benefit and advancement of the status of women in Israel.

President of the International Council of Women, Cosima Schenk, said that, under the expert guidance of MASHAV Director Mazal Renford, the conference was of the highest calibre. A very high level of women from all over the world are attending, including government ministers, mayors, United Nations officials – all concerned with the status of women. They can see how Israel, in 65 years since its independence, has become a country of opportunity, where men and women share their experiences to make a better world. Referring to the last words in the Passover Haggadah, she exclaimed, "Next Year in Jerusalem!"

Concluding the afternoon, Mazal Renford said (in three languages!) how pleased she was that the conference was held in Israel, and what a delight it was to see so many wonderful well-educated women from around the world. Referring to Israel's world-renowned achievements in its 65 years, she ended by saying, "Every country can achieve what we have.