The Words of Yeon Ah (Choi) Moon (wife of Hyo Jin Moon)
Ambassador Sauerbrey was the United States representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and immigration.
Good afternoon. I am very happy to visit with my friends of the Women's Federation for World Peace here in Korea and to speak with you about the contribution of women and families to world peace. I believe that family and faith are the very foundation of prosperity, freedom and stability. I share your deep respect for the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon who have been promoting God-centered family values for more than fifty years. Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon is committed to continuing this legacy until her final days.
During my six years in the U. S. State Department, I held two positions, first as ambassador to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and then as assistant secretary of state -- dealing with issues of population, refugees and migration. In both of these roles, the empowerment of women was central.
My focus was on women's education, economic and political opportunities and health risks for women. We pursued programs to counter the tragedies of illiteracy, forced early marriage, maternal mortality, human trafficking, child slavery and poverty. No country can prosper when women's voices are silenced, their bodies exploited and their rights violated. Oppression of women goes hand in hand with failed societies, and failed societies are a danger to peace and stability.
Fundamental to peace is respect for women and for their rightful place in the family. In most regions of the globe where there is continual aggression and conflict, women are denied basic human rights and are often treated as chattel. The best defense against poverty, conflict, ignorance, child prostitution, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, etc. is a strong and healthy family structure.
The character of a nation begins in the home because it is stable families that produce good citizens and the virtues on which democracy depends. The family is the fundamental unit of society. Over the centuries, and supported by all major religions, the definition of the natural family has been two adults of the opposite sex, living together faithfully for life, while being responsible for each other and for the rearing of their children. It is the family that transmits cultural, moral and spiritual values down through the generations and that imparts personal responsibility, self-discipline, intellectual curiosity and a strong work ethic to the young.
Children thrive within a loving family. Family life thrives when it is built on intact marriages, and intact marriages are most likely to survive when there is regular worship of God our Father.
Does empowerment of women help or hurt the family? I would suggest there is a big difference between empowerment and liberation. Empowerment equips women with the tools to be equal partners within a loving marriage and to help educate, support and impart strong moral values to their own children. Women's Liberation, promoted by radical feminists, sees marriage and children as oppressive and seeks to free women from the responsibilities of marriage and children.
In many countries, liberation has been winning out. As women become better educated and have more economic opportunities, they are indeed choosing not to marry at all or not to have children, threatening the very survival of some nations and cultures. This is a very serious problem for Korea and Japan. The marriage rates in both countries have plunged to record lows. Along with fewer marriages comes a lower fertility rate. In South Korea, the fertility rate is now one of the lowest on the entire globe. Japan is only slightly better. When new births are not replacing the loss of the elderly population, countries cannot long survive. Most western nations are suffering the same fate. The U. S. is one of the few western democracies that still has a healthy birthrate.
However, the U. S. is plagued by another ill that is just as devastating to the future of my nation -- a growing number of women who have rejected marriage but have children outside of marriage. The rejection of fathers and mothers of each other and of their children has become an American crisis.
Forty percent of all American children are born to a single woman and are raised in a home without a father. Among blacks, that climbs to over 70 percent. In addition, a gay activist movement is working to redefine marriage to include same- sex unions, thus undermining the importance of traditional marriage, procreation and the security provided to children by a loving mother and father. This breakdown of the two-parent family is at the root of most of the social problems plaguing America.
Studies prove that children of unmarried parents are much more likely to live in poverty, to fail or drop out of school, abuse alcohol or drugs, and to end up in jail or as victims of sex trafficking. Welfare use is significantly higher for families with illegitimate children. Children of unmarried parents are themselves at higher risk of becoming unmarried parents when they reach adulthood, creating a cycle of poverty and dependency. Generous welfare handouts are making marriage unnecessary and fathers irrelevant.
Mrs. Ellen Sauerbrey speaking
But the problem of out-of-wedlock pregnancy goes far beyond that of the individual and the family. Nearly fifty years ago, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote, "There is one unmistakable lesson in American history... a community that allows a large number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos." It's a statement even more true today than it was five decades ago. When there is a concentration of broken families in a community, that community will disintegrate -- the moral and social fabric of the community itself breaks down. When children are rejected and denied parental love, they are likely to seek it elsewhere, often inappropriately, such as in the acceptance of gangs as a replacement for the family. America's urban communities, like Detroit and Los Angeles, are plagued with violence, crime, drugs, gangs and chaos. When the family crumbles, it results in a host of social problems for the individuals, and destroys the peace of the community. When the family is weakened, the nation is weakened.
For the past forty to fifty years, the western world has been conducting a tragic experiment with liberation and the results are in -- the decline of marriage and the two parent family, antisocial behavior, educational failure and economic decline.
There is no more important mission for women than to provide leadership in reconstructing the family. That means women must be selfless, put their children ahead of their own selfish desires, and work hard to make their families strong and healthy. (It is encouraging that a whole generation of American professional women have recognized that there is greater personal satisfaction in being full-time mothers to young children and have chosen to put their careers on hold.) But, because too many women no longer perceive marriage as a necessity, first and foremost, women themselves must again become convinced that marriage and the opportunity to raise moral, spiritual and contributing citizens is the most extraordinary and satisfying life she can lead and the most honorable gift she can give.
Restoring the family will not be easy today. Our young are bombarded with the cultural bias against the traditional family and traditional values, delivered daily in music, art, movies, television and the internet. Making the task even more difficult is the glamorizing of movie stars, rock singers and other public figures who flaunt immoral behavior, especially out-of-wedlock births. Tragically even government and civil institutions undermine the family and corrupt the young. For example, in America today, public schools promote explicit sex education including homosexual behavior. Our children are taught that there are no moral absolutes -- right and wrong depends on the situation. Governments give welfare checks to women who have children out of wedlock -- the more children, the bigger the check. Courts rule that abortion and same-sex marriage are human rights and ban prayer in public schools. Television and movies promote promiscuity, pornography and have waged a veritable campaign to normalize gay relationships.
It is a daunting task for parents to overcome these outside pressures, but women must be in the forefront of the fight. A political solution is a vain effort without God's help. The future is still in his hands. If we obey his law and commandments then he will bless our families and our lands.
His promise to us is in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
None of us acting alone will reverse the tide, but we know that when moral and upright women hand together, as you do in organizations like WFWP, God will multiply the impact we can have.
It is time for empowered women to demand that government leaders promote measures to protect and strengthen the intact Mom-and-Dad family. For example, many mothers are forced to work out of economic necessity. Laws that permit home-based employment and flexible working hours help families balance their need for income with the responsibilities of child rearing. The tax code must not penalize any mother that chooses to stay at home to raise her children or that wants to educate them in faith-based schools. Likewise, government agencies must stop promoting promiscuity, abortion and homosexuality.
In most homes, it is mothers who spend the most time with their children. They love, they nurture, they discipline and they teach values through instruction and example. Mothers teach children the importance of honor, personal responsibility and self-respect; that there are right and wrong choices and that they are responsible for the choices they make.
Mothers must be able to talk to their children about sex and help them to understand why abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage are correct choices for a happy and successful life. Mothers must convince their daughters that having babies irresponsibly outside of marriage is wrong and their sons that failing to support children one has fathered is wrong.
In every home the pressures undermining family and morality can be neutralized if parents ensure that children become firmly connected to religious institutions and regular worship. Mothers need to introduce their young children to prayer and to building a solid relationship with God. A strong spiritual foundation will reinforce the moral teaching in the home and shield our children from evil influences. Each one of us -- mothers, grandmothers, aunts or neighbors -- should ask God to steer us toward young people in our life on whom we can have a personal impact.
Peace and freedom from strife is a national and worldwide goal and it all starts with inner peace and peace within a happy home. The greatest challenges we face are to strengthen the family and faith in God. That is also the greatest gift we can give to our troubled world.
With the grace of God many women have been empowered to be doctors, lawyers, business owners or whatever they want to be. But the good woman does not seek to be liberated from the most important role that only she can fill as mother and center of the family. The family is the cradle of the nation and women rock that cradle.
Left: Yeon Ah Choi, vice-president of WFWP International sitting with Ambassador Sauerbrey; Right: Mrs. Harward spoke on the basis of recent well publicized incidents and studies that show the plight of women is still grave.
It is an honor and a privilege to be with you. First, I would like to express my gratitude to the Women's Federation for World Peace International, the secretariat and their regional chapters, for their continuous efforts to promote peace across the globe. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to address this distinguished assembly in reply to the keynote speaker, Ambassador Sauerbrey. Her speech is dense and rich. 1 will highlight some aspects and leave a few comments for the debate.
Excellencies, distinguished guests and woman leaders, I have worked on four continents -- Europe, America, Africa and Asia. 1 have been exposed to different cultures and beliefs. I have tackled the subject of women and peace from different angles -- working for the UN, NGOs, in state diplomacy and in the field. Also, as a woman, I am a believer. My family comes first. The extended family too, with neighbors and friends, like the Korean medical unit who embraced me and took care of me when I was pregnant with early contractions in a peacekeeping mission in the middle of the Sahara desert. But your excellency, I am not sure that the empowerment of women through God-centered families is the magical answer. It is indeed part of the equation but...
I come from a Holy Land devastated by wars in the name of religion. We have learned the hard way that it is dangerous to politicize God and family values. Extremism is blind and invariably leads to war. Examples in our modern history should be used as lessons learned. In every democracy, in every country with one predominant faith or coexisting religions, awful things are done in the name of God. A citation from the Holy Koran comes to my mind, Surat An-Nisa' (The Women) 4:79: "What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, is from yourself." Checks and balances are necessary, and one model doesn't fit all.
It is true that the "Oppression of women goes hand in hand with failed societies, and failed societies are a danger to peace and that the best defense is a strong and healthy family structure."
From a United Nations perspective, the broader family that I belong to, several international instruments protect women, children, and their indivisible human rights, starting with the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 16 states: The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) affirms the equality of human rights for women and men in marriage and in the family.
In an ideal world, empowerment leads to liberation and free association on the basis of equal rights and obligations and mutual respect. Since the subject is family, we need to eliminate gender-based violence in the family, commonly against women and girls. I am limiting myself to domestic violence and will leave aside the role of women in peace and security, in conflict and post conflict zones. Studies have shown that conflicts, wars, military occupation and violence in the public sphere create a culture of violence that impacts on women in the private sphere and vice versa.
In spite of the lack of gender disaggregated reliable data, following in depth studies on violence against women and against the girl child, examining the nature, prevalence and impact of violence, it is estimated that "from country to country, 20-50 percent of women have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner or family member.' The UNICEF Digest on the subject suggests that violence against women is perpetrated when legislation, law enforcement and judicial systems do not recognize domestic violence as a crime. How to end impunity when less than fifty countries have adopted specific legislation and when several countries use tradition, cultural or religious specificities to escape their legal obligations?
For instance, we have in Lebanon eighteen sects with a predisposition to a confessional divide, women and men are not equal in the civil status as administered by each sect. Some religious leaders threatened with excommunication those who seek civil marriage and state officials who support civil marriage. Last week, the advisory committee on legal matters took a courageous stand and authorized the "civil marriage" of two young people who have deleted the religion from their identity papers, claiming they had no religion but wanted to get married. Civil marriage if instituted, in addition to a selective religious marriage, would help create a culture of peace in Lebanon. We ought to go back to the basics -- freedom and respect for the freedom of others helps create a culture of peace.
Woman leaders from various religious and ethnic backgrounds met in Korea for the Global Women's Peace Network Assembly.
Like many other peace activists, I welcomed the creation in summer 2012 of the Abel Women's UN. I see this initiative as an added value to the UN system, which does not imply UN failure. On the contrary, it accounts for the universality of the message in a multicultural environment where the jus cogens and binding international instruments prevail, reaffirming the inherent, inalienable and "divine" nature of human rights.
Recently in the news, we have all been shaken by the prevalence and magnitude of violence against women, often perpetrated in the name of God.
In my part of the world, Arab winter has replaced the Arab Spring. Regimes are more concerned about their own security, while if they had invested in the people, they would have provided a more secure environment for their citizens. Youth and women were at the forefront of Arab Revolutions. But they were not empowered, so the revolutions were hijacked by those who had a biased perception of masculinity, adherents to traditional patriarchal, oppressive roles. Women were sent home and those who persisted were physically humiliated, sexually and verbally assaulted.
In twenty countries in this part of the world, at least 1,500 people per year are victims of acid attacks, 80 percent of whom are female. In some part of the world, girls are denied access to education. From now on, the UN will celebrate every November 10, as Malala Day, promoting the rights of all girls to education after the attack in 2012 on Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who campaigned for the right to girls' education and the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. The world was shocked less than two months later by the death of an Indian woman who was gang raped on a bus in New Delhi in early 2013.
Violence against women is unfortunately a cross-cultural issue also prevailing in the western world. In France, my second home, 146 women were killed by their spouse or intimate partner, 75,000 were raped and three million injured in 2010. In England, less than a month ago, a thirteen-year-old girl slipped and fell to her death after "being pressurized into performing a sex act on a classmate who shared a phone clip of her doing so with all his mates. She threatened to jump from the window if he did not delete it."
These few examples illustrate the continuum of violence which affects women through a life cycle, from infants (infanticide), young girls, women, but also elderly (deprived through their property or neglected).
However, the good news is that the chain of silence can be broken, and many awareness campaigns have been launched on national, regional and international levels. To end on a love note, Valentine's Day witnessed a "One Billion Women Rising campaign," a global movement to end violence against women and girls initiated by the activist Eve Ensler in cities across the world; Vday 2013 was also observed at the UN Headquarters.
In all those actions, it is important to engage men and religious leaders in combating gender-based violence. It takes time to change mentalities and attitudes, but the winds of change are blowing. Let me report to you this anecdote: A family was playing a game with a three-year- old boy, citing opposites, such as tall -- short, big -- small, etc. When asked by the grandma what the opposite of a boy is, he replied, to the relief of his father, a man! And not a girl.
God bless your families and loved ones. Thank You.
Ms. McKelvie has been an MP since 2007.
My thanks to the Women's Federation for World Peace for the opportunity to speak to you today. What makes a family? Mother, father, 2.1 children and half a small dog?
A family is a very positive identity; its members feel close and connected and family provides a mutual security network where people support one another and avoid making moral judgments.
At its worst, that same family network can become highly judgmental, critical and unwilling to accept human diversity.
I am empowered by my job as an elected member of the Scottish Parliament, serving my constituents and contributing to the wider agenda of how we govern our country. It thrills me to see more women achieve that kind of meaningful empowerment.
In Scotland, we have a history of being a very tolerant, peace-loving, outward-looking society. If we achieve our independence, as we certainly intend to do in 2014, we will be able to build on our historic drive towards egalitarianism.
This society was seeking education for women in the 1880s and not just in Scotland. Missionaries were persuading native peoples around the globe to educate girls. We have consistently nurtured the right to a free education for all, according to ability and not the ability to pay for it.
So you can understand why my view of the world -- with our Scottish Enlightenment philosophers like David Hume and Adam Smith, who back in the 1730s were already talking about the need for a free education for every child -- pushes in a different direction from Ms. Sauerbrey's.
Families come in a host of different shapes and sizes. With a single parent, gay parents, couples who live together but don't marry, inter-religious couples, interracial couples, couples with special needs, extended families, post-divorce families and couples who have no other relatives. That diversity is not signifying some kind of failure in society. No. It signifies recognition that throughout humanity, there are different and equally appropriate ways of running family life.
And all families need and deserve a backstop of social welfare to help them manage. The British government is stopping the universal right to child benefit. Governments don't create families, but they have a duty to help support them.
I do not see a weaker family life, I see an evolving one. There may be fewer families of the traditional kind, but alternatives are not somehow poorer quality families.
This is the knowledge century. People have access to the internet as never before and the web is propelling demand for information. People ask questions. They want -- and deserve to get -- answers from their elected representatives. The web provides opportunities to understand what goes on in the world and to find ways of supporting the cause of world peace.
Peace and freedom from strife come with that knowledge and understanding and with engagement in the political process. Women are gradually recognizing this, and more are moving into positions where they have real influence on policy, on culture and on civil society. These are the people we need to encourage, the women who can create meaningful equality because they are playing a part in it. There's no point waiting for the men to do it.
It's not all about motherhood and apple pie. Wake up! The Iraq war didn't start in a kitchen. The Middle East crisis didn't either. The collapse of the American economy wasn't a kitchen sink drama. Bad things happen at the top of the pile and the rest of us suffer. Empowered women are helping to build world peace.
That's why equality and empowerment isn't a choice. It's a basic human right, a responsibility for us all, and it needs to be enshrined in law.
Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns, puts it like this and it's as true today as it was in the eighteenth century:
"While Europe's eye is fix'd on
The fate of empires and the fall of kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention."
Let us not seek to exclude. Let us create a path for world peace that includes us all. Thank you.
Left: Belarusan Congresswoman Zoya Krot (center) Right: Ms. Augustine, former member of the Canadian House of Commons
I am pleased to be invited to participate on this response panel. My thanks to the Women's Federation and to our Canadian representative, Ms. Lilly Tadin, who provides leadership in Canada and is hardworking and committed to women's issues.
I appreciate the presentation of Ambassador Sauerbrey and thank her for her years of public service with emphasis on the empowerment of women.
In empowering women in the twenty-first century, we must see women as key change agents. Women bear responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the family, there is no doubt. Yet:
Women are denied access to resources and education, legal, reproductive and property rights in many countries.
Women all over the world are still struggling for inclusion and for women's equal and human rights, to end violence against women and discrimination against girls.
Women are still struggling for leadership in elected office and decision-making positions.
The vast majority of the world's poor are women with two- thirds of the world's illiterates being women.
Any discussion of women in the twenty-first century (where women are the providers) must address economic issues -- access to employment, equal pay for equal work, minimum wage; workplaces and working conditions for women; childcare in the workplace; suffrage: participation in the political, social and cultural lives of their country.
In a world where we read daily of wars and conflicts we know that 90-95 percent of the casualties are civilians with the majority being women.
Eighty percent of the world's 40 million plus refugees are women and children.
We hear of rape as a weapon of war with women and girls as the victims in most cases.
Evidence show that women play a critical role in peacemaking, peace building and peace-keeping. There are examples of women working to create a culture of peace and to initiate reconciliation processes.
It is women who cry for peace, find a cure for hunger, keep stability in families and find ways to bring about positive social change. A woman's capacity is often overlooked and underutilized.
Let me remind you of the 2003 Hague Declaration on Women and Peace-Building signed by representatives from fourteen countries, and I quote:
"In view of this tremendous capacity of women for peacemaking, we call on nations in conflict -- their governments, their armed groups, and their societies -- to:
Give women access to formal education, health services, and economic self-improvements, as well as leadership roles and mass media and information projection;
Integrate gender perspectives into social transformations;
Allow women to participate in all stages of peace negotiation and conflict resolution, policy-making, reconciliation, and healing;
Liberate women from cultural constraints that impede their full growth and development as human beings and from those that deny them their human rights;
Promote daily dialogue amongst people from diverse social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and levels;"
The declaration, signed ten years ago, is relevant today. It ends by saying, "Peace is not an issue but a duty." I think it is that realization that we today are performing our duty -- that is, reminding ourselves of the issues that face a majority of women in this twenty-first century.