Posted by Carol Hutchinson on Sep 30, 2019
Guest Speaker:  Friday, October 4, 2019
Location:  The National Club, 303 Bay Street
Topic: Update on HIV in Africa
 Host: Jeff Dobson
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Stephen Lewis Foundation March, 2003–February, 2019
Full time Senior Advisor to the Board, Stephen Lewis Foundation, February, 2019-Present
No matter what the issue or how overwhelming the odds, Ilana Landsberg-Lewis passionately believes that individuals can - and do - make a real difference – particularly when they come together in common cause at community level.
Ilana is a labour and human rights lawyer, and she is a deeply committed advocate for the rights of women and children. She spent eight years at the United Nations, with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), where she worked as the Agency’s CEDAW Advisor (CEDAW - Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). During this time she travelled extensively to developing countries, working with grassroots women’s groups to apply human rights conventions and standards in their struggles to claim their human rights on issues ranging from female genital mutilation, gender-based violence, to property ownership and all forms of discrimination. She went on to co-create a programme that brought local grassroots women’s rights activists directly into the CEDAW Committee chambers to be heard on discrimination in their countries - a tactic that proved so successful, it has since been integrated into the official proceedings of that body. Ilana was also instrumental in bringing into existence and managing UNIFEM’s Trust Fund on Violence against Women, which funds grassroots women’s groups in developing countries. She also co-founded, and became the first President of UNGLOBE, a group advocating for the rights of LGBTQ U.N. employees.
In 2003, at the height of the AIDS pandemic in Africa, Ilana joined with her father Stephen Lewis, to establish the Stephen Lewis Foundation to support community-based organizations that were – and continue to be – at the heart of the response to the AIDS pandemic in the 15 sub-Saharan African countries hardest hit by AIDS. To date, the Foundation has raised and disbursed over 100 million dollars to 300 plus grassroots partners working on more than 1600 different HIV & AIDS-related initiatives. In 2006 under Ilana’s leadership, the SLF launched the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign – a solidarity campaign challenging the traditional models of charity – engaging over 10,000 Canadian grandmothers to support grassroots organizations run by and for African grandmothers - who inherited the burden of care for millions of grandchildren orphaned by AIDS.  The Campaign has raised over 30 million dollars since 2006, and now has groups in Australia, the U.K., and is now working on launching in the U.S.  In May 2018 the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign was one of four organizations honoured by the Geneva Forum for Health as a global ‘best practice’.
In 2009, Ilana was the recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction award for International Development, and in 2012 she was named one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada. She is a member of the Board of SIGI International, an advisor to the Global Peace Council of Canada, and an executive member of the Interpride Global Solidarity Fund.
Ilana is very proud of her two feminist, progressive sons, Zev and Yoav, and is the host of a podcast called Grandmothers on the Move, for which she interviews grandmothers around the world to shine a spotlight on the vital contributions they make to their communities and societies.