CHW Weekly Stories

Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW)

Women in Leadership Needed Now More Than Ever

CHW draws inspiration from H.E. Deborah Lyons, Ambassador of Canada to Israel, at an intimate gathering of women, representing organizations advancing social issues- including gender equality, accessibility, and social cohesion- in Israel and around the world. 

Ambassador Lyons with CHW Israel Liaison Rachel Lasry Zahavi

From her official residence in Tel Aviv, Ambassador Lyons addressed the group:

“You have been stepping up to that human condition, to help move us all along in whatever areas you’re working to a better place- as difficult as it may seem sometimes and as frustrating as it might get.”

Having just completed her third year in Israel, Ambassador Lyons has no plans to slow down. Her initial thoughts about retiring- to a life of leisure, gardening, piano playing and cooking- will have to be put on hold for now.

“I think we are being called up in this difficult period we are going through. So, I’m going to stay very active- not just as an Ambassador, but also post Ambassador.”

Despite the important milestones and progress made to advance women’s rights and social issues, Ambassador Lyons shares:

 “When I saw the work of the last 50 years, I was so fueled by it and I was so impressed by it. I was convinced we were getting to such a better place as a world that respected human rights, as a world that recognized and followed a set of laws and norms and that regardless of one’s religion or ethnicity, we followed a certain common understanding of what a good and decent society should be.”

But, as the world became ‘smaller’ with the advancement of fast and cheap transportation along with new communication technologies- “we are literally in each other’s back yards.”

Reflecting on the changes, Ambassador Lyons notes:

“When we go through these huge periods of change, we get a little scared of one another and we wonder about our place is in the world and where we belong.  We also wonder about how the changes will affect us and our children.  And yet, even with everything we know today, we still fall back into those fears.”

Ambassador Lyons shared her thoughts on current social trends and mass migration, where many people are noticing what others have and are willing to risk their lives, travelling thousands of miles, in search of a better life for themselves and their children. 

“You really can’t help but admire them for their unbelievable courage. And yet you can also understand if people feel their arrival is disruptive. Especially if their arrival comes in hundreds of thousands, as it has happened in Europe.” 

Ambassador Lyons acknowledged Israel’s many social challenges and the active civil society that others can learn from. 

“Everything that is happening in the human drama, is happening here with such an amazing intensity.  Israel is made up of over one hundred cultures.  People came from all over the world to create Israel as it is today.  Canada gets this fantastic reputation for being so multicultural and tolerant, but Israel needs to get more recognition for how multicultural and inclusive it is.” 

Ambassador Lyons stressed the need for more women in leadership roles.  “We have to soothe and nurture, stroke and heal and work extra hard to understand and to help respond in a healthy way.”  

Although the challenges may seem daunting, Ambassador Lyons ended with an encouraging message for all the women in the room:

 “I think we’re best when we’re being tested. When we’re up against challenges, a goal and a purpose.  After all, the purpose of life, is a life of purpose.”

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