The Words of the Smith Family
Karen Judd Smith
You have questions about WFWP? You want to know if WFWP is doing anything these days, and if so, what? I hope we can begin to answer some of your questions here. We hope that the rest will be answered by what you see WFWP doing in the next year or two.
Possibly because I spend quite a bit of time on the computer and on-line, asking questions myself, the idea of helping flesh out the latest of the Womenís Federation for World Peaceís developments by using the "Frequently Asked Questions" seemed reasonable. Iím not sure if your questions are exactly the same as some of mine, but they canít be too different.
I have questioned WFWPís real purpose, What is its most effective approach to local and global issues, how to position it-as a service organization, educational organization, membership organization-and why, and many more. Some questions were very personal, ones I would have had to face no matter where I was in the world. Others stemmed from genuine concerns that are bigger than any one of us as individuals. Nevertheless, the changes that are now going on are the fruit of many individualsí efforts. They are born from a belief in the vision of genuine, true partnerships between men and women as the basis for a peaceful world and the desire of the human spirit to be effective in our pursuit of this vision as a united group of women rather than as individuals.
Without this common sense of commitment to the vision of WFWP, without the desire to genuinely respond to human need in our own communities and abroad, and without the common sense that WFWP is a major vehicle of change at this time, we would not have come this far. Change never comes easily-anywhere, within or without. So while we have no glowing victory speeches yet, we offer a few words to outline the work in progress and a few more words aimed at encouraging faith in the power of women of heart and integrity. The Womenís Federation for World Peace is associated with many such women in one way or another.
I hope the following FAQís can answer some of your questions. I hope that if you see some aspect of WFWP that could do with some help, you will step in and offer to do so. WFWP can be a powerful way that you and I offer the best of ourselves to the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is WFWP different now than before? What are we doing since the Japanese-American Sisterhood Conferences ended and what was the result of those conferences?
This is perhaps the most commonly asked or unasked question, yet it is perhaps the most important to askÖ and to answer. I wish to answer this one in two ways.
First of all, WFWP is not yet very different, as we have only started on a new direction two months ago. However, the direction we are headed in will widen our approach and accessibility and increase our effectiveness. Why and how? Because so many women are feeling the need to be involved in something substantial rather than symbolic only. Or should I say, most of us feel the desperate need to substantiate our faith, our conviction that our core belief in the goodness of humanity can help us make real changes in a society that is largely headed in an amoral or immoral direction.
If there was not this common "felt need" and desire coming from so many women, Women's Federation for World Peace would have little reason for or hope of real change. The very fact that so many ask this question shows what we need to be doing-creating an organization that IS an agent of change in our communities and our society. So our efforts are currently focused on that-creating an infrastructure that enables our volunteer group of women who are scattered about the country and who have varying degrees of time and availability, to nevertheless contribute to their community and the nation in a substantial way.
The second point I wish to make as part of the answer to this question is to acknowledge the value of what we have done. Sometimes we are a little too hard on ourselves in our quest for the kingdom! So here I would like to add the following to Mrs. Spurginís review of what we have accomplished. I simply wish to remind you (and myself) of the two stages of creation . . . of anything. The first stage happens primarily in the invisible realms of thought and word.
The first years of activity, I would liken to the formation stage of WFWP. Through the seeds of change by thought and word, those years helped create a unique organization that brought with it a way - a "bridge of peace", that enabled thousands of women to transform by crossing over their own barriers. Now we are at a time when we need to take this more spiritual experience out into the homes and lives of those who are unable to come to the "bridge". We need to substantialize our ideals through deeds. I too have to be careful not to negate the value of the first phase of this development while making sure we do move on!
In other words, all the Sisterhood Conferences that gave WFWP itís amazing foundation were not only all glitz and money spent, but they are now an essential part of what WFWP has become and thus they form a foundation for our future work. The urgency we face now is to use well the foundation built, the money, sweat and tears spent, so as not to waste all our past efforts. The urgency is also to catch the wave that can take us quickly to the shore we currently seek-influencing American culture away from its current moral apathy.
Plus it is important to know that our Founders have urged WFWP and the leaders of our "brother" organizations to further support the work of WFWP in the short time before the year 2000. Sure there is pressure coming from all quarters for all of us to produce in many other areas. This is not new. The worldwide situation is not yet easing up, so neither will the urgency.
We simply urge you to offer some of your efforts and support to the work of helping make peace a reality through WFWP. . . Perhaps three hours a month and $40 to $120 per year?
What are the main structural changes taking place in WFWP?
First, our board is becoming far more active and involved in the planning and development of WFWP. This means that the top decisions are not being made by one person alone, but through the wisdom and investment of heart and experience of seven people, up from four, and we plan to add more. As the board develops, board members will play more of a key role in developing funding plans and finding donors! So right from the top, people are being encouraged to think of ways to find funds and spend those funds wisely.
Next, we have developed an Executive Committee. This committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss ongoing activities and developments; to report on the various National Committeeís work, to accredit the various chapters that are applying for status as a WFWP Chapter, and to ratify National Committee staffing changes when they come up. In other words, it is a mechanism to enable WFWP members to participate in the ongoing work and representation of the organization. This helps make WFWP a memberís organization.
Likewise, the development of the National Committees enables direct involvement with the development of WFWP by non-staff WFWP members. We currently have the International Liaison Committee, the Interracial Sisterhood Project Committee, the Volunteerís Committee, the Chapterís Committee, the Empowerment Committee (just beginning to form,) the Grant Writing Committee, the Communications Committee and the Annual Convention and Awards Committee. In reality, most of these committees are still being formed. If you are interested in being involved in any of these areas, please contact our National Office at (212) 481-3922.
What are WFWP's main objectives? Women's Federation for World Peace has by its name, a mandate to work to establish world peace by addressing directly and indirectly, the underlying causes of conflict fundamental to the relationship between men and women.
Currently it is well recognized that one of the most obvious lines drawn between those who have and those who do not have, is the line between the sexes. Unfortunately, this same differentiation between those who have and those who do not is the basis for conflict worldwide.
Poverty is well recognized as a scourge not only due to the physical misery it causes, but also to the mental, psychological and spiritual anguish that accompanies it. Poverty is the most prevalent violation of human rights. And poverty has primarily a woman's face--the face of single, uneducated women. It cuts across race, religion and national boundaries.
Only as we empower women with all they need to be successful -- knowledge, tools and support, can women arise from our rather sorry state. But we have to constantly remind ourselves, that empowerment does not come from accusation, resentment or a reversal of power. Rather true empowerment and equality come with wisdom, strength and love--with hearts that can forgive and forget as we rebuild ourselves and the ones we love--our families.
What are the current projects that define WFWP?
The three main current projects are:
First --the Interracial Sisterhood Project targeting high school girls as well as women to become people who can reconcile, resolve and gain strength through the skills of vision, respect and forgiveness.
Second-a Social and Economic Empowerment Project, targeting the problem of poverty. At the time of writing, it is in its formation stages and we will get full information out to you early in 1999.
Third--UN Public Lecture Series. This will be an ongoing series designed at informing and bringing key issues to the public's attention.
What is the value of being associated with the United Nations' Economic and Social Council?
As with all UN associated NGO's, the value is twofold as the relationship is a partnership. First, we can feel good about our organization as not so many organizations gain the status we have thus far. We gained it on the basis of having sister organizations in over 143 countries worldwide. From the UN's perspective, this not only gives them a greater voice for their issues and concerns in the world, but it also means that we can provide them with useful information, project implementation ideas and feedback.The second is that through our association with ECOSOC we are much more in touch with the UN developments in the areas of our concern. Therefore we do not have to function in a vacuum and we can both learn from the UN's developments and those of other NGO's as well as find partners for our many activities--at least in spirit if not always in substance.
What is the value of being associates with the United Nation's Department of Public Information and Communication?
The main value of being in association with the UN's DPI is information--knowledge. Perhaps the greatest resource of the UN is their information resource and networking resource. Well used, we can develop far more effective strategies and plans of action that will be much more effective at implementing the changes we seek.
As WFWPís restructuring progresses, we will more regularly inform our membership of UN activities and issues through a special publication, UN Update. Information is an important tool. With timely information, WFWP is far more effective.
What are the main goals for 1999 and 2000?
We have two main goals. One is organization, (maintaining identity), and one is development. We must become a truly viable nonprofit that is completely self-sufficient in terms of our corporate functioning otherwise we will have no ability to effect change in our society.
Simultaneously we need to initiate programs that serve the communities that have needs and the communities that feel they have something to offer. Our development as an educational and service organization must happen as we strengthen ourselves membership-wise and organizationally.
What are our annual dues used for?
Growth and survival. To exist, we must sustain some fundamental activities. To keep our NGO status, we must be a nonprofit. To be a nonprofit we must have annual audits. To have annual audits we have to have people to assist and people to do the ongoing work. To be an organization we need an organizational body. Annual dues are absolutely needed to sustain the organization. Contributions to the local chapters sustain the local chapters in a similar fashion. So as not to drain the local chapters, WFWP National seeks only 33% of the original dues rather than the 50% sought in the past. However, we need to get more members to cover the basic expenses. Any moneys donated for a particular fund, such as the Anti-Poverty Fund will be used accordingly.
Why does WFWP have a goal of involving 50,000 women in antipoverty work?
Because it makes sense given the feminization of poverty--and because our Founders suggested this particular goal! We want to change the world. Perhaps it wonít all be glamorous work, but we want the changes to be real.
It is our hope at WFWP National Headquarters that this process of growth inspires you as much as it inspires us. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please let us know as we are interested in hearing from all of you.
We can be reached in New York City by phone at 212Ė481-3922 or Fax 212-481-3927. You can also e-mail us at email@example.com and to subscribe to our online newsletter, "Peacemakers" just send an e-mail to: Peacemakers@wfwpusa.org and type the message "subscribe". Itís as easy as that. Hear from you soon and if youíre not already a member of WFWP please fill out the form and you will receive a packet with our latest newsletter!
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