International Women's Day
A message from Sharon Gustafson, President of the International Council of Jewish Women
The occasion of the International Women’s Day, 8 March, is an opportunity for all of us to both look at how far we have come, and how far we have yet to travel. The goal, of course, has been from the earliest establishment of this special day, to assess our progress toward several significant “markers” for women all over the world. Among these are:
- Absence of violence, both sexual and physical, foisted upon women and girls
- Equal opportunity for women to seek employment and recognition for their work
- Compensation equal to men for similar work performed in similar conditions
- Religious equality – total absence of discrimination based on religious practice or belief
- Equal legal recourse for any and all acts of discrimination – civil and religious
- Access to education equal to that offered to boys and men
Without question these are but a few of the examples of the problems women and girls have faced historically in countries around the world and in religious communities in those countries. And just as the problems faced throughout the years are not limited to “Third World” countries nor to non-Jewish communities, the struggle to address these inequities is the responsibility of ALL of us. Without question women have achieved notable success in many fields over the past several years. Whether the “field” is politics, medicine, education or religion, women have contributed enormously to local and world communities. But there remains much to be done!
If we find ourselves in a country or community where the problem is less egregious, or the issues less compelling, we should celebrate this day by turning our attention to sisters who are less fortunate. For we are indeed part of a world-wide sisterhood – a sisterhood of women and girls around the world and from faith communities which range from Jewish to Muslim to Christian to Hindu. And on behalf of the International Council of Jewish Women, I urge us to celebrate the International Day of the Woman by praising our achievements while rededicating ourselves to eliminating the barriers our sisters continue to face. We can do it — we must do it — and we must renew our commitment to this unfinished task today.
Sharon Gustafson, President
International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW)