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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Heritage and how women can make the world a better place

Monday, November 27, 2006

Meg was invited to give the keynote speech at the celebration dinner to celebrate 20 years of the Lubavitch Foundation-Beis Chana Jewish Women and Girls’ Centre in North London.


I’d like to thank the Lubavitch Foundation for the kind invitation to attend and speak to you tonight. As a Government Minister I am becoming more aware of the important contribution that the Foundation, that you, make, not only for the Jewish community, but also toward the wider national community.


I’m glad to be here and join you in celebration of the success of the Beis Chana Jewish Women and Girl’s Centre. The film has given us all valuable insights into the achievements of this Centre over the last 20 years. It has clearly been at the forefront in providing support services and activities for women and families. The fact that it has flourished over the last two decades shows that it has been successful in meeting the needs of Jewish communities.


The Centre embodies the commitment that exists within the Jewish community to support the capacity of women in the local community, and to provide opportunity for self development. The Centre’s work clearly promotes the role of women of all ages and in all spheres, establishing support networks which allow women to participate fully, not only in their faith communities, but in business and education.


Faith Communities

As you may know, Government is committed to engaging with faith communities. We recognise the essential role that faith community’s play, alongside others, in building and supporting a society based upon mutual respect and an understanding between people of all faiths and none. 


As part of that engagement is the recognition that communities, including the Orthodox Jewish community, need to affirm their distinct cultural identity.  Jewish communities have their own history and unique identity, and it is vital that these are sustained. I know that the Orthodox Jewish community has an important role to play in British multi-cultural and multi-faith society, particularly in relation to furthering the role of women.  


Many of you here tonight, I know, will be active in your own local areas making your own contribution toward social and community cohesion. It is important that faith communities fully use the knowledge and experience of the women in their communities.


Women in Faith

The contribution of Jewish communities has greatly enriched society, with much of the praise due to organisations like the Lubavitch Foundation. The Foundation deserves credit particularly for its contribution towards the positive representation of women, not only within the Jewish community but wider society.


Establishing the Beis Chana Jewish Centre is one example of the effort to increase the role of women across all strands of community engagement. We need to reflect equality and respect to all members of society in order to develop more cohesive communities, as shown in activities which facilitate the educational development of the women.


I also welcome the support the Centre has given to young women to encourage them to contribute towards voluntary and charitable endeavours, to becoming educators and role models to their peers. The successful outcome of this nurturing of talent is evident looking around the room tonight.


Women and Government

As Minister for Women and Equality, a role including issues of race, faith and community cohesion, I am very pleased to be here and celebrating the success of a project which assists so many Jewish Women. I share the Centre’s wish to provide an environment in which women can make real choices, and I appreciate the exceptional work you have done and continue to do.


The role of the family is central to many faith communities, none more so than Jewish communities. The success of the established Jewish community in the UK can in part be credited to the strong position held by women in the family. This is why Government’s key priorities will focus on childcare provision and supporting working families.


The Future

Many women have benefited over the last 20 years from being given the chance to explore opportunities for learning and development. I am confident that the Beis Chana Centre will mark many more occasions like this, and continue to have a positive affect on the lives of the many women who use its services.


We remain committed in Government to ensuring that our policies continue to reflect the needs of women. Much progress has been made, but we know that there is more to do. Although many sections of the Jewish community continue to excel, this picture is not uniform. .Minority communities still experience inequalities in education, health and employment, and this problem is often compounded for women.


We will continue to carry forward our existing policy commitments, whilst working to improve the experiences of those who lack opportunities. I hope we can work together to overcome those problems that continue to hold people back from achieving what they are capable of.


Once again, can I thank the Lubavitch Foundation for allowing me to address you.  I wish you well in taking forward the work of the Foundation and Beis Chana Jewish Centre. 


Thank you.


For details of the centre visit: http://www.lubavitchuk.com/centres/centre.asp?c=beischana


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