Austria celebrated 100 th anniversary of women’s suffrage. We had our first-ever female Head of Government – Dr Brigitte Bierlein was Chancellor of Austria from 6/19 to 1/20. Dr. Bierlein had been a recent VAÖ guest in her previous role as President of the Austrian Constitutional Court and had joined VAÖ. In the current Government, nine of the 17 members of the Cabinet are women. However, the gender pay gap and equal numbers of women in leadership positions more broadly, still remain an issue.
In March this year, the VAÖ elected a new Board. The new President is Dr. Maria Tiefenthaller. Vice President is Dr. Irmgard Bayer. The new CER is Mag. Elisabeth Francis. The full Board is shown on the VAÖ website.
Before the Corona lockdown, all six provincial chapters – Vienna, Lower Austria, Burgenland; Upper Austria; Styria; Carinthia; Salzburg; Tyrol – continued very active, inviting diverse and distinguished female experts and scientists from various disciplines, as well as politicians, to their regular meetings and workshops on issues of interest to women. The current Minister for Women will be our guest shortly.
We have re-instituted the Rose of Appreciation – to be awarded to enterprises or individuals who advance gender equality and who promote or publicise outstanding female achievement. The first recipient was L’Oreal Austria for their practice of annually giving five scholarships to young female scientists. Subsequently the Rose was awarded to a journalist for her exemplary reporting and efforts to make women in science visible.
In 2018 VAÖ hosted the D-A-CH Friendship Meeting (Germany-Austria-Switzerland, also including some Dutch members) in Innsbruck.
It was a very successful gathering with a rich cultural programme. The VAÖ has for some years been supporting and befriending a number of women refugees and is delighted that our friends have successfully integrated into Austrian society and are well underway with their new professional lives.
VAÖ members actively represent GWI at the United Nations Vienna. The VAÖ has joined SDG Watch Austria, a civil society platform promoting and monitoring progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The new President has been very active, contacting officials and personalities in areas where we do not have members, looking to increase and broaden ourmembership. Attracting younger members continues to be an important objective. Three new Board positions were created – Career and Study Advice, Art and Science, and Public Relations. The Corona crisis has brought many challenges. We are now resuming our activities and are looking forward to celebrate the 90 th anniversary of the Upper Austria chapter in Linz in November.
On behalf of VAÖ,
Elisabeth Francis / CER
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in early March, the meetings of the organization took place with Zoom. These included monthly book discussions on contemporary Israeli literature, meetings with members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) dealing with issues of empowering and promoting women, and lectures on a variety of topics.
There are a number of children’s institutions in Israel for maltreated children who have been removed from their homes by order of the Court. About 40 of our members are mentors in three of such institutions, helping to improve the children’s spirit and teach them to believe in themselves and their future. A scholarship fund has been established to give these girls guidance and additional help to begin their higher education. This year we awarded 19 scholarships each of NIS.6,000.
We are very thankful to Dr. Anne Negre, UWE President for her visit to Israel and were delighted that she participated in the award event.
We have another scholarship fund which has been in existence for nearly 50 years which awards grants to women doctoral students. This year we awarded 10 scholarships each of NIS. 6,000.
On International Violence Day a conference was held in parliament to increase the awareness of the public of the violence against women. Volunteers from all the women’s organizations in Israel (including IAUW) attended. It was interesting to hear several victims sharing their problems. Volunteers from IAUW help in shelters for battered women.
In these difficult days of Corona, since many people have lost their jobs and face poverty, volunteers are also participating in a project delivering food parcels to needy families.
Representatives of IAUW sit on the parliamentary Committee for the Status of Women. On August 2020 the Parliament passed an amendment to The Men and Women Employee Equal Wages Act (1996). This amendment compels the employer to publish a comparative pay report of both gender employees.
Words cannot express how much we appreciate the Cooperation MOU Agreement which we signed with UWE. This gives us more strength to promote women’s rights.We hope that in the near future we will be accepted as full partners in the UWE.
On behalf of IAUW,
Ora Sharon / Vice President & CER