The European Council of WIZO Federations (ECWF)
was established and registered as a non-profit NGO in Paris in 1994. The aim of its founders was to establish an European WIZO organization, which would have a say on issues of women’s equality, discrimination and anti-Semitism in European bodies such as the European Women’s Lobby and the Council of Europe.
Each European WIZO Federation could become a member and has the right to send two delegates with voting rights in the ECWF. Founding members (honorary life members) kept for themselves voting rights at the ECWF assembly. Individual members without voting rights were also accepted.
ECWF has undergone a structural transition that started at the annual conference hosted by WIZO Austria in 2006 in Vienna and was accomplished at the annual conference hosted by WIZO Italy on June 8th, 2009 in Rome. A new constitution and rules of procedure had become necessary. They were drafted by adv. Miri Metuki and then adopted. The new aims and objectives included two essential points:
- Support for Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and
- The fight against anti-Semitism as defined by the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in 2004/2005, including the important explanation of how anti-Zionism is frequently a mask for anti-Semitism. This working definition employed by monitoring organizations in various OSCE participating states, is recommended as a useful document for governments.
The new rules of procedure authorized the replacement of the president by an elected executive steering committee.
Participation of WIZO European Federation Presidents in the annual meetings and their involvement in decision making was also promoted. Each member federation was given the right to nominate two delegates to ECWF. Voting rights were given to delegates and to members of the executive but not to honorary, life or individual members.
The new rules allow only European WIZO federations to become members of ECWF and only WIZO women to become individual members of or be nominated as delegates.
Dr. Hava Bugajer of Austria, Nathaly Cohn-Beizerman of France, Irene Goldberg of Switzerland, Diana Schnabel of Germany and Michele Vogel of the United Kingdom were the first elected members of executive.
ECWF holds annual meetings hosted by European WIZO federations, elections to its executive are held every four years.
ECWF is member of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and has consultative status in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, with the right to make suggestions and statements on social affairs up until 2019. Manuele Amar of France is permanent chief delegate to the Council of Europe.
In an atmosphere of rising influence of NGOs in European politics, the activities of ECWF have gained importance.