Unification News for
Womens Federation For World Peace, International - Third International WFWP Convention
by Nora Spurgin-NYC
Womens Federation for World Peace held its Third International Convention as part of the World Culture and Sports Festival on November 26-30 in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. The convention was attended by 388 participants from 103 countries. 305 were from abroad and 83 from the U.S. Focused on the theme, Women of the New Millennium: Loving and Serving the World, the convention sought to draw women from different nations closer to each other in common concern for peace and the eradication of poverty.
The conference opened with welcome remarks by Nora Spurgin and the First Lady of Washington, D.C., Mrs. Cora Masters Berry. Introductions were made to WFWP officers and VIPs in the audience. A speech by Madam Sukarno was read and a short history of WFWP was presented by Mrs. Lan Young Moon Pak followed by a video on the Bridge of Peace.
The opening plenary session on November 27 featured:
Mrs. Maureen Reagan as Conference Chairwoman, Greetings by Mrs. Gil Ja Sa Eu, the Founders Address, "Let Us Become the Living Embodiment of the True Family Ideal" by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers of American Enterprise Institute, "What Is Right and What is Wrong with the American Womens Movement?"
One hundred sixty national messiahs attended the plenary session in addition to 388 participants . Attendees of the conference included a first lady, secretary of state, senators, members of parliament, professors, lawyers, doctors, ambassadors and presidents of large womens groups. The group as a whole was attentive, attended the sessions, and was responsive to all the speakers. The audience received True Mothers address well; women remarked that the speeches were valuable and informative. True Mother stated:
"The coming time is the age of One World Under God. God is working for this kind of world and will always help those people who are working for the same goal. There is a problem. Many people want to lead the world but do not want to participate in Gods providence. In order to make one peaceful world, my husband and I have poured ourselves into various efforts. Let me give a few examples. We need to establish an ideal, worldwide academic institution, like a U.N. university. We must transcend the barriers of race, religion and language to complete the foundation of the future world. To exchange knowledge globally, we need a university system for distance learning. We also need to develop a unified medical science. We need not only to cure the diseases of the body caused by the fall, but also to end the conflict between Orient and Occident through harmonizing eastern and western culture. By unifying eastern and western medicine, we can cure formerly incurable diseases, such as AIDS."
The keynote speaker, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, was supportive of True Mothers speech. Participants commented that they appreciated both speeches and sought copies of them. Dr. Sommers concluded her speech with the following remarks:
"We all have a moral obligation to stand up against mistreatment and injustice to women. We need to strengthen the role of women in worlds affairs. But to do this realistically and effectively, we need a womens movement that strengthens the family and cares about the well-being of children. We need a womens movement that promotes compassion and understanding between men and women. We need a womens movement grounded in spiritual and moral values. The Womens Federation for World Peace is such a movement. I applaud you for being a part of it, and a wish you great success."
The opening plenary session was followed by an overview of our worldwide work by Mrs. Motoko Sugiyama and world reports by representatives of several other nations and a video from Korea.
Bridge of Peace Sisterhood Ceremony
A special highlight of the conference was the Bridge of Peace Sisterhood Ceremony. Over 150 international sisterhood pairs were made. Some women chose to be matched with enemy nations India and Pakistan, Egypt and Israel, etc.; others were matched with their national messiahs, and the remainder were paired randomly. Wearing their national dress made it a beautiful event. There were many tears of joy as women joined their sisters.
After this ceremony, there was a united spirit of joy and unity among the participants. As we always experienced during sisterhood ceremonies, there is a deep sense of spiritual liberation. As part of the ceremony, our speaker, Ekaterini Economidou, a conflict resolution facilitator from Cyprus, gave a tearful testimony of her own experience of crossing a bridge with separated peoples of Cyprus. This speech was a perfect backdrop for women to chose partners from enemy countries.
Bridge of Love Ceremony
After the Bridge of Peace, we invited couples in the audience to participate in a Bridge of Love ceremony. Ms. Maureen Reagan and her husband led the group crossing the bridge to bow and embrace each other in the center. Fifteen couples crossed this bridge.
After the Bridge of love, we asked all women who had husbands to share in the reading of vows of recommitment to strengthen their own families. They read the vows that were at each plate after which we did a toast with "holy sparkling juice". The blessing prayer was said over the Thanksgiving meal and a representative sprinkling of holy water was sprinkled immediately after the prayer.
As far as we know, all the participants attended the blessing at the stadium as well. After the blessing, some from tropical countries were cold and took taxis back to the hotel, but most stayed for the entire day.
The four breakout sessions had four presenters each, giving us a total of sixteen speeches on the following themes:
Section 1 - Education And Literacy
1. Mrs. Joanna Mari-Greece-Judge, Vice President and Councilor at the Council of the Greek State, Supreme Administrative Court. Topic: The Role of Women at the Approach of the Twenty-first Century
2. Commissioner Aurora Navarrete-Recina-Philippines-Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights; Professor of Law at the Far Eastern University in the Philippines; President, Women Lawyers Association. Topic: Human Rights in Relationship to Womens Issues
3. Mrs. Georgette de Camacho-Bolivia-Spouse of the permanent representative of Bolivia to the United Nations.; Professor of Japanese and English Literature, Author of Literary Publications; Founder and Director of Education and Arts Institute in La Paz. Topic: Micro-credits
4. Dr. Bahiya Al-Jishi-Bahrain- Director of Childrens Department; General Organization for Youth and Sports, Govt. of Bahrain Topic: An Education-The Right of Every Child
Section 2-Culture And Healthy Environment
1. Ms. Merlyn Hyacinth Brown-Jamaica-Consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister with special responsibility for the Citizens Charter. Topic: Teaching Responsibility in Developing Countries
2. Hon. Gladys Gutierrez-Dominican Republic-Secretary of State, Dominican Republic; Director of Dominican Republics Division for the Advancement of Women. Topic: Creating Homes and Societies Safe from Violence
3. Mrs. Aka Adjoua-Ivory Coast- Superior Technician in the field of Hydrological and Rural Equipment; Working with the Ministry of Housing and Environment. Topic: A Womans Approach to Problems of Hunger Relief, Surplus, and Distribution
Section 3-Family As A Foundation For World Peace
1. Mrs. Yiyun Chen-China- Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Founder of a center that handles family issues. Topic: Family Issues in a Rapidly Changing China
2. Mrs. Elfriede Abt-Austria-Psychotherapist; Member of the International Parents United Network. Topic: Using Preventive Methods in Raising Children.
3. Dr. Muthgard Hinkelmann-Toewe-Germany-Founder, Practice-Oriented Feminist Science (PROF-S) UN NGO; Professor at the College of Fuldas School for Social Science. Topic: Structures which Enable Women to Increase their Peace-making Results.
4. Mrs. Laila Balga-Latvia- Director of Womens Rights Watch in Latvia; President of Social Democratic Womens Organization; Chairperson for the Council of Valka Municipality. Topic: Womens Management Skills
Section 4-Youth And Morality
1. Dr. Louisa Woonton-New Zealand-Consultant and Medical Practitioner in the field of health; Working in the area of strategic planning, organization, development and general health awareness. Topic: Women of the South Pacific- Unity and Diversity
2. Mrs. Bedy Budori-Mauritius-Senior Social Welfare Officer at the Ministry of Social Security and National Solidarity; Executive Director of Mauritius Family Planning Association; Assistant Commissioner, Ministry of Womens Rights, Child Development and Welfare. Topic: Preventing Teenage Pregnancy, Drug/Alcohol addiction and Violence
3. Prof. Harumi Kimura-Japan-Translator, Essayist and Author; Member of the Council on National Language and the Ad Hoc Council on Education. Topic: Protecting Youth from Moral Corruption
4. Mrs. Kristina Seher-U.S.A.-Principal of a private School in Hayward, California; Serving on the board of directors of the Graduate School of Education Alumni Association in U.C. Berkeley; Co-Chairwoman of the WFWP of Northern California. Topic: Character Education All participants attended the breakout sessions with interest and sincerity. The question and answer sessions were lively, and according to the feedback, the participants felt that the content was excellent. Many commented about the high quality of both the presentations, the discussions afterward, and the quality of participants.
Two additional speakers, Datuk Paduka Dr. Saleha bte Hj Mohd Ali of Malaysia, who spoke on "Putting Heart Back Into Education", and Prof. Young Hee Suh from Korea, gave educational and informational speeches which were well received.
Betsy Jones and Christine Froelich conducted an inter-religious service at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. It was well attended. The room with 100 seats was overflowing and more chairs needed to be brought in. Women of different faiths shared readings, prayers, poems, and music. All the participants were deeply moved. In fact, when people kept coming to the office for tissues, we knew they had a moving experience.
Where Do We Go From Here?
A "Where Do We Go From Here?" forum featured four speakers who spoke about projects which would pair women from developing and developed nations. They spoke about micro-credit loans and sponsorship projects. This was a foundation for asking all countries to think of themselves as "givers" of something material, spiritual, or educational.
One presenter from China, director of a Beijing center for family issues, expressed that China wants to give, not only receive. She said, "We have many wealthy people in China; also, we have many students who speak English who might like to work as volunteers." A representative from Malaysia also said that they want to offer something to the rest of the world. There was a powerful response to this session.
In concluding the "Where Do We Go From Here?" session, we presented the following 4-step strategy.
Step 1. Keep in touch with your sister from the sisterhood ceremony.
Step 2. Go back to your country and help develop WFWP there. Work with the Japanese volunteers who are already there to serve your nation.
Step 3. Create a strategy for international communication and interaction. We want to find 50,000 women worldwide who are committed to eradicate poverty.
By January 1, 1998, send your strategy to international headquarters. What can your country give? What does your country need?
Step 4. On the basis of receiving this information, International headquarters will form a committee to match up needs and offerings.
A lady from India chose to cross the bridge with a lady form Pakistan. It was an especially significant event because this particular day was the anniversary of the separation of India and Pakistan.
One lady from the Philippines was struggling about the blessing especially True Fathers role as Messiah. As a Christian, she said she felt that Rev. Moon was either from God or from Satan; so she prayed for a sign. When the sun came out during True Fathers prayer, she was convinced that this was her sign, and said, "Now I know he is from God."
The wife of the Ambassador from Niger was deeply moved by the convention and our work. Although she spoke only French, she made a good connection with our WFWP translator, seriously discussing her concern for women in her own country. Since the convention, she has already contacted the president of Niger who wants to work with WFWP Niger. Also the translator (in America) is preparing a special fund-raising drive with women in America to help build a well in Niger and connect with the Japanese sisters in Niger for service projects. This testimony is an example of the spirit of sharing that the convention promoted.
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