Women, the Family and Peace

August 27 - 31, 2015 - Seoul, Korea
By: William Selig

Third World Summit 2015

The Third World Summit was held at the Intercontinental Grand Seoul Parnas Hotel, in Seoul, Korea, August 27 - 31, 2015 and was sponsored by Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in association with the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee. Plenary Session VI, with the theme, "Women, Family and Peace," was held on August 29, and was organized in cooperation with the Women's Federation for World Peace, International (WFWPI), a co-sponsor of the Summit. This session was chaired by Ms. Alexa Ward, a vice president of WFWPI and deputy director of the UN Office.

Women leaders from various nations offered their thoughts on the role, responsibility and capacities of women to contribute to peace, human flourishing and mutual prosperity for all people. In particular, the significance of the family as an instrument of peace and global prosperity was emphasized.

Professor Yeon Ah Moon, the president of WFWPI, spoke about the importance of "creating a peaceful society and environment for the sake of the future happiness of all humankind." We are in an age when the views of women are being increasingly appreciated and welcomed, particularly with regard to peace-building," she said. The founders of UPF proclaimed "The Coming of the Age of Women" in 1992 and invested in numerous programs to educate and support women "to be leaders for a century of true peace and happiness."

She quoted Dr. Sun Myung Moon on the role of women centering on the family: "Peace must first be realized in the individual and in the family, because these form the basis for all human organizations and systems." Professor Moon spoke about the activities of WFWP, which include the true family movement and pure love youth education. "Participation by women is needed in all aspects of society, from diplomacy and politics to the economy and legal system reform," Professor Moon said. "Women need to be active in education and culture, in sports and the arts, not to mention the diverse activities of NGOs." In closing, she emphasized the need to encourage and foster the practice of living for the sake of others.

Dr. Emilia Alfaro Franco, Senator, Paraguay, reported on the status of women in Paraguay, beginning with a historical analysis. Women have helped to protect and create the nation, Senator Franco said. Women have worked in the fields, the factories, and in all areas of society. Since 1950, the population in Paraguay has quadrupled. Senator Franco spoke about the difference in the number of children born in rural areas and urban areas.

More than half of Paraguayan women who work in the urban sector are located in only three occupational categories: self-employed worker (34.8 percent), domestic worker (16.1 percent) and unpaid family worker (6.2 percent). The educational situation of Paraguayan women in general has improved in the last decade, although there are still significant problems, mainly in rural areas. Today women are taking major roles in the country and supporting the development of democracy. The current minister of defense and the minister of labor are women. The participation of women in the exercise of power and decision-making in the Paraguayan Parliament (2013-2018) is as follows: Chamber of Deputies: (12/80 in total) and the Senate: (9/45 in total).

Ambassador Haruko Hirose, former ambassador to Morocco, Japan, spoke on "Women, the Family and Peace," from the perspective of a Japanese woman. Ambassador Hirose praised the WFWP for "fostering solidarity among women around the world." In the aftermath of World War II, the Japanese people, particularly women, learned to appreciate the value of peace, she said. Although the world has advanced in terms of economics, health, life expectancy, etc., many nations suffer from the effects of hostilities and other tragedies. Women and children, said the ambassador, are innocent victims. Today in Japan, more women choose to work outside the home, seeking economic independence, but since women's salaries, on the average, are lower than those of men, they're more likely to succumb to financial difficulties, which creates implications for child care, education, and housing. Another big problem for Japan is its aging society. In 2014, the percentage of people over the age of 65 was 25.9 percent of the population, and it is forecast that this will rise to 33.4 percent by 2035.

These facts create two major difficulties for women. First, responsibility to care for the elderly is traditionally the role of women. Second, as the life expectancy of women is longer than that of men, women often are left alone, poor and without means of support. Ambassador Hirose referred to her own experience at UNESCO. The preamble to the constitution of UNESCO declares: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." Hence, the importance of securing the role of women and the family, since the mother is instrumental in raising children as well as being the center of the family. "A happy family is the best place for raising children as well as for maintaining social security," she said. Education is also a key to national development. "We need to bear in mind that we are citizens of the world: We must learn not only to be good citizens of our own country but also to be good citizens of the world. I believe this will help to nurture mutual understanding and build peace, and in that sense the solidarity of women will make a significant change."

Madam Adi Koila Nailatikau, the first lady of Fiji, recalled the words of the late Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who said: "If we have not achieved peace, it is because people forget its most fundamental aspect. Before we talk about peace among nations, we must settle our peace with God." She spoke about the importance of the family, where children learn the rules of conduct, including cooperation, truthfulness, love and caring and "where we equip them with their compasses, charts and suitable provisions for their voyage" to be good citizens. Women hold a special place in the family. They are the foundation upon which the nation is built. Without a secure foundation, she said, it eventually will fall.  "The last 20 years have seen Fiji remove all vestiges of discrimination against gender from laws and policies, but it is something that is still slowly being enforced in my country and region," she said.

Dr. Rima Salah is a member of the U.N. High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, which was created by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in October 2014 to review U.N. Peace Operations. It also reviewed issues relating to women and peace and security. In her experience, she said, women are often not represented and consulted in U.N. assessments. "Today a historic 60 million people, mainly women and children, suffer the fate of internal displacement or being refugees abroad. In addition to indiscriminate killings, appalling abuses are perpetrated against civilians in the midst of today's armed conflict. Sexual violence remains a pervasive tactic of modern war; women and girls are subject to mass abductions, as well as forced conversion, marriage and sexual slavery," she said. However, there is a "growing body of evidence that participation of women in all aspects of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building has a tangible impact on human security and on peace and security in general." Despite progress in the status of women, "there are still significant implementation gaps that need to be addressed, and the vision of [U.N.] Resolution 1325 [which calls for the adoption of a gender perspective to consider the special needs of women and girls during conflict] remains only partially realized. Dr. Salah called for a shift in the U.N. peace operations to encourage a transformative shift to elevate women in the peace and security agenda.

Mrs. Judith Karp, former deputy attorney general, Israel, and former deputy chair and member of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, spoke on "The Gender Perspective of Peacemaking." She said, "Women around the world share common perspectives that emanate from their experiences as women. Women share sensitivity to injustices and sufferings stemming from the history of injustice toward them as women." She said that women have an inherent nature that predisposes them to "favor peaceful solutions and peaceful actions." Mrs. Karp relayed the Bible story about the five daughters of Zelophehad, who, after their father died, petitioned Moses to allow them to receive their father's inheritance since he had no sons to carry on his name. Moses agreed and a precedent was created-the first law of inheritance for women. Mrs. Karp said the underlying reason for this ruling was because "the daughters were united and stood together in their fight."

Mrs. Karp then referred to U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1325, "On Women, Peace and Security" (2000), which "focuses on giving women their own voices in peace processes based on universal rights." The resolution brings out the gender perspective which, according to Mrs. Karp, represents a new approach to peace-a "feminized concept of peace." Historically men have interpreted peace as the absence of hostilities and war, but women "interpret peace in terms more sensitive to the need of ensuring personal security as well as familial and communal well-being." She said, "Peace for women is not just the lack of war but also an ongoing process of building, development and infrastructure necessary for sustainable peace." Women "tend to look at society as a family."

Copyright © 2013-2015. World Summit 2013, World Summit 2014 and World Summit 2015. All Rights Reserved.