[Global] Progressive Jewish Voices Represented at the United Nations (UN)

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With over 22 years of service, Janet Stovin, devotes her commitment to the World Union for Progressive Judaism by representing its mission of connecting Judaism from every corner of the world at the United Nations.

Stovin serves as the World Union’s NGO representative at the UN and sits on the NGO Department of Public Information executive committee.

“I filter things through the Jewish perspective,” Stovin said.

Stovin, apart from her executive committee role, is very active throughout the UN, sometimes being the only representative of a Jewish organization within a committee.

WUPJ is in Consultative status with the Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) allowing representatives certain direct access to commissions meetings and committees. Previously Stovin was both the World Union and the Women of Reform Judaism representative. The WRJ, in the Association with the Department of Public Information, receives access to briefings but not the same level of clearance that the World Union is entitled towards.

When Stovin moved to New York, she met Norma Levitt who served as president of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women at the time. Stovin joined Central Synagogue’s UN committee within the sisterhood there, under Levitt’s guidance.

At that moment, Levitt and Betty Golomb were co-representatives of the World Union at the UN.

This started her involvement in the international Jewish community and she has not left since.

One of the reasons Stovin continued this representation for so long is her continued to devotion toward the equality of women. Stovin is a founding member of the working group on girls and is part of the committee of Religious NGOs, both having a main focus on women’s rights, particularly of the girl child.

This spreads to her involvement on other committees such as the Committee on the Status of Women, The International Federation of Business and Professional Women and the Jewish Nongovernmental Organization Caucus, among others.

“With my role, I can share an international take on Judaism,” Stovin said. “I highlight what is being done around the world and in Israel.”

Being representation for a progressive Jewish organization has only once given Stovin backlash within the international community, and this incident was not within the walls of the UN.

“I represent an organization based in Jerusalem and I am proud to do so,” Stovin said.

Overall, Stovin said she feels representation of the World Union is both respected and appreciated throughout the UN.

Due to the World Union’s Consultative status, five representatives are entitled at the New York location. There are two other UN representatives: Rabbi Francois Garai in Geneva and John Clark in Vienna. Stovin said she wants to start a conversation between the other representatives to facilitate a concise representation of the WUPJ.

Because the focus of WUPJ is to connect Jews from every age, Stovin said she wants to start to recruit NFTY participants to fill the current open seats in New York.

“I am a mother of four children- 2 girls and 2 boys,” Stovin said. “I want everyone to understand that they are entitled to their human rights.”

Referencing back to her involvement in the international empowerment of women, Stovin emphasized that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are certainly women’s rights as well.

“I want to look at the days when fathers sees their daughters as a resource instead of a detriment,” Stovin said.

Progressive Judaism, Stovin said, is an ever-changing religion allowing social change to take place.

Every committee and board that Stovin sits on, she said has some connection to the values of progressive Judaism.

“From female empowerment, to disability rights, to sustainable development, I share the progressive Jewish involvement,” Stovin said.


About the Author:

Alyson Malinger is the Advocacy and the Communications Associate for Women of Reform Judaism. She graduated from Indiana University, majoring in Journalism, and is a member of Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, NJ. Alyson completed an internship in global advocacy and communications at the World Union for Progressive Judaism in the summer of 2017 where she researched key issues changing the face of global Judaism and leaders growing congregations around the world.