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Lifestyle/Community

WIZO celebrates women every day

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World WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organisation) celebrated its official centenary on 11 July 2020. There were greetings and celebratory messages from the 50 WIZO federations around the world, including ours. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent personal video messages of congratulation to the organisation and all its federations, acknowledging them for the critical role they play in uplifting Israel, and paying homage to WIZO’s incredible longevity.

WIZO founders Rebecca Sieff, Edith Elder, and Vera Weitzman recognised an urgent need to uplift women and children in the early days of Palestine who were living in dire circumstances. In 1920, they formed the Women’s International Zionist Organisation to establish education and social-welfare infrastructure in Palestine.

Through the years, WIZO has stepped in to do what the government can’t do itself. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, WIZO helped to integrate new immigrants to Israel. In the 1970s and 1980s, WIZO created the first shelters for women and children suffering from domestic violence. WIZO was a pioneer in this area, setting up many programmes, and uses a holistic approach which takes care of victims and abusers.

In the present time of COVID-19, WIZO was a first responder in opening up emergency shelters for women at risk due to the confined spaces in which they have been forced to live with perpetrators of violence and abuse. WIZO also made sure that its day care centres were fully operational at hospitals for the medical teams on the frontline fighting the pandemic in Israel. WIZO continues to lobby the Knesset for the advancement and empowerment of women and children in all spheres of society in Israel.

We are proud to be active participants in this worldwide movement of women dedicated to strengthening the fabric of Israeli society, especially now when health, work, schooling, finances, and food are everyday concerns.

We are proud to support issues affecting women and children in South Africa. From our Wheelchairs of Hope initiative (light-weight, brightly coloured, wheelchairs, from Israel, designed specifically for children, giving them the dignity of mobility), to joining local non-governmental organisations in collecting blankets, toys, hygiene packs for rape victims, and more whenever we have been called on to offer support.

As Women’s Day approaches, we are aware of the desperation facing women and children who suffer abuse in this country, and we stand with all women – those who struggled under the harsh laws of apartheid, those who became struggle heroes, those who set out to help others even though they had so little themselves, and those who still face hardships.

We salute the generosity of women in South Africa, the spirit to move forward, the ubuntu.

May we continue to be proud volunteers, raising awareness, giving support, and empowering society’s most vulnerable citizens here and in Israel.

“It does indeed take a village to raise the child, but it takes a global sisterhood to build the Israeli nation.”

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