Women’s group hopes Men as Allies event creates partnership
Presentation and discussion focus on working together.
To help combat the recent fear and conflict surrounding sexual harassment and gender equality, a local women’s group is channeling its energy toward an unlikely ally – men.
Violence against women has become the forefront of national conversation. The accusations against Harvey Weinstein and the overwhelming “Me too” posts by multitudes of women are shining a light on how many women and girls have been victims of sexual harassment or assault.
“We need men to partner with women to change the culture and find solutions to gender inequalities that still exist in our societ y,” said Tami Lesser Baldinger, CEO of Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Greater Palm B e a c h e s . “I f men s t a n d up, speak out, and invest in women, together we can prevent violence against women and girls.”
On Nov. 9, the group will host JWF Men as Allies: Why Feminism is Good for Men, as the first event in a campaign to educate and engage men about gender equality.
Baldinger views Men as Al l i e s a s a n oppor t uni t y for “men to get involved in JWF’s vital work to create a more just society, where women a nd g i rl s c a n b e safe and successful and all people can reach their full potential.”
The cocktail reception and program is hosted by Eddie Schmidt and Ozzie Medeiros at their restaurant, Table 26, and will feature a presenta- tion and disc u s s i o n by Jeffrey Nall, a thought leader i n philosophy and humanities. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. J WF Men a s Al l i e s wil l examine one of JWF’s core beliefs – that when women and girls are supported and empowered, the entire community benefits – men and b o y s i n c l u d e d . Na l l , a n author and speaker who is currently a master instructor of philosophy at Indian River State College, plans to focus on how societal norms limit the ability of men and women to be safe and reach their full potential.
“We a re t hr i l l e d t o b e launching our Men as Allies campaign,” said Jay Bauer, chair of the JWF Men as Allies committee. “It is critical men understand the opportunit y they have to partic ipate in improving the lives of women and girls. As an inclusive organization, JWF relies on the voices of many, who stand to improve the lives of all.”
Bauer, of Pal m B e a c h, has been involved with JWF for several years. His wife, Eileen Berman, is the founding chair. Because of her passion and knowledge about barriers facing women and girls, Bauer embraced the organization. He joined the group on a trip to Israel last fall to meet female leaders and see the projects JWF supports there that are empowering women and girls to create change.
“Men need to be part of the solution because we are part of the problem,” he said. “We can create a better world for the women in our lives. Men need to support JWF’s work, to help change attitudes and behaviors that prevent women and girls from being safe and successful. Men can speak out on behalf of women’s rights. It’s the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”
In many ye ars in business, Bauer saw firsthand how many smart, qualified women did not have the same opportunities because of their biological sex.
“That’s not right or fair and doesn’t make economic sense in terms of our success as a societ y,” Bauer said. “Women in general are more sensitive to the important issues in the world. If all the positions of defense ministers were given to women, it would be the end of war in the world.”
Other JWF Men as Allies committee members include: Nir Buchler, Richard Comiter, Gary Lesser, Rabbi Yaron Kapitulnik, Brahm Levine, Brian Lowenthal, Adam Myron, Andrew Reitman, Eddie Schmidt, Herb Siegel, Jason Stuhmer and Joel Yudenfreund.
One of the goals of the event is to encourage a partnership between men and women to change the culture and find solutions to gender inequalities that still exist in our society. If men stand up, speak out, and invest in women, the hope is that will prevent violence against women and girls.
“We are sincerely alarmed by current conditions and trends in our country a n d a ro u n d t h e worl d , ” Baldinger said. “This discussion is relevant and timely, because it is obvious there is still so much work to be done to create a just and fair society for all. We hope men – and women – will come together at this first program with open minds and thoughtful ideas.”
As for Bauer, he hopes many males will attend the event.
“The event will be fun and interesting and I hope many people will join us,” Bauer said. “We have all seen the recent news and we all want to do our part to make a difference. This is a moment in time and a wonderful opportunity for men to get involved right now. This is an opportunity for everyone to do good and to become a better person.”
Jay Bauer (center), chair of the inaugural JWF Men as Allies committee, stands with his wife, JWF founding chair Eileen Berman (left), and immediate past President Paula Lustbader at JWF’s luncheon kickoff last year. Bauer, who has been involved with JWF for several years, says: “It is critical men understand the opportunity they have to participate in improving the lives of women and girls. As an inclusive organization, JWF relies on the voices of many, who stand to improve the lives of all.”
Eddie Schmidt (left) and Ozzie Medeiros, owners of Table 26 in West Palm Beach, will host the Men as Allies cocktail reception and program at their restaurant on Nov. 9. The event is designed to, among other things, encourage a partnership between men and women to change the culture and find solutions to gender inequalities.