Since its initial involvement with the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2003, the Women's Federation for World Peace, International (WFWPI) has hosted and supported parallel events on an annual basis. This year saw a significant increase in the number of opportunities afforded WFWPI leaders and UN Team members to speak at side and parallel events organized by member states and NGOs. The following is a brief summary.
For WFWPI, these opportunities to speak began with a parallel event, sponsored by WFWPI, and co-sponsored by the Association de Intervention pour les Meres, (AIM), and Family Watch International, on March 15, with the theme, "Engaging Women in Sustainable Development: Family, Transformation, Co-Prosperity." The panel of four included Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, International Vice President for Europe and Director of the UN Office for WFWPI. The moderator was Mrs. Alexa Ward, International Vice President and Deputy Director of the UN Office.
Mrs. Lily Lin, WFWPI International Vice President, Asia, spoke on "Women Empowerment and Sustainable Development" at a parallel event sponsored by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of New York on Thursday, March 17. She reported on the core value of the Family. She stressed that ours is a global family and as such WFWP, Taiwan has developed three core focuses: Sound Development of Youth & Anti-Drug Abuse and AIDS Prevention education; Empowerment of Women & Family Happiness program; Networking & Altruistic Service. Her hope for the future of Taiwan and passion for WFWP's worldwide vision and mission was clearly felt by all in attendance.
Along with the South African Minister of Social Development, the Hon. Bathabile Olive Dlamini, Professor Yeon Ah Moon, President, WFWPI, and Mrs. Alexa Ward were honored to speak at a side event on March 18. The event was held at the Harlem State Office Building in New York, and was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa and the NGO, Ilitha LaBantu, with the theme, "South African Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Historic Women's March of 1956." The event was moderated by Ms. Nandi Bengu, a member of the WFWPI UN Team in New York.
Photo report of the event: South African Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Historic Women's March of 1956
Professor Yeon Ah Moon introduced WFWPI, the Founders, and the founding vision. Alexa Ward spoke about Lilian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph, two of the women who led the march of 20,000 women in 1956 that brought light to segregation and women's issues today. The saying, "You strike a woman, you strike a rock," was initiated during the time of the march, and has come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa.
Also on March 18, Jeanne Carroll, a member of the WFWPI UN Team in New York, who serves as the primary WFWPI representative to NGO CSW NY, spoke on a panel sponsored by the Tabernacle Worship and Prayer Ministries, UNESCO Center for Global Education, Association of Muslim Women, and Women in Ministry Association. She spoke on the need for people of faith to bring their faith into the UN in support of the topic, "Empowerment of Women in Religion on the 2030 Development Agenda."
Due to her long-time work in intercultural relationships, Cynthia Shibuya, a member of the WFWPI UN Team in New York, who has represented WFWPI with the Department of Public Information (DPI) for many years, was asked to speak on "The Importance of Understanding of Culture to Achieve the UN SDGs and Empower Women." Mrs. Shibuya spoke on the value of preserving and appreciating the cultures of others as well as one's own. Expressing interest in and appreciation for another's culture creates a very unifying factor in a new relationship and also in any peace negotiation. The event was sponsored by the National Council of Women US, and Nation to Nation Networking on Saturday, March 19.
Nandi Bengu, who represents WFWPI with DPI, represented WFWPI at a co-sponsored side event on Monday, March 21, with the Permanent Missions of Honduras, The Gambia and Indonesia, and the NGOs United Families International; the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society; and the Universal Peace Federation. The title of the program was "Toward a Sustainable Lifestyle: Women Empowered and Families Strengthened." Ms. Bengu moved the gathering as she spoke on the need for all children to feel loved and cherished by their fathers.
WFWPI leaders have the opportunity to become well-rounded and informed through access to a worldwide network of activities, programs and reports. As a result, they are able to speak with passion and knowledge on various topics which deeply resonate with women. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be achieved as information and service expands person to person, group to group, and NGO to NGO. Those women who represent WFWPI in their countries, as well as at the UN, are committed to achieving the SDGs, in partnership with governments and NGOs, and are committed to the realization of a world of lasting peace.