Human Rights: Awakening the Dignity of Women
September 24 - 26, 2010
With a call for inner transformation as the springboard to social and political leadership, the Reverend In Jin Moon exhorted women leaders at the 18th Annual Assembly of the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP) Sept. 25, 2010 in Manhattan. She expressed the importance of realizing a new role for women in this age, which can be achieved through understanding their worth as divine beings. "If we are going to build a world that is free from violence and hatred, then we need to start with ourselves. We need to decide to be that agent of change. We need to realize that it is within our power to raise [a] generation of peace."
She went on to say that, "In order to reclaim dignity, women throughout history have had to dig in the soil that has been hostile to women. However, our true dignity in fact comes from God regardless of our race, cultural background."
Rev. Moon argued that women must have a voice and a presence in all venues of life, certainly in the context of family, but also in society, politics, religion, and economics. However, "why do women need to be the position of leadership?" she asked, answering: "To show the world how they can be guided through compassionate leadership. We as women are the nurturers, we are the guides; we are the ones that empower and give our children the confidence to succeed. "
Rev. Moon also spoke about her work visiting congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill to urge their attention to the plight of Unificationist women suffering abduction in Japan and their subsequent abuse by professional faith-breakers. She mentioned that abuse includes rape and torture during the last 30 years. "These women and their dignities are being lost. As a woman who not only understands her own worth and dignity that has come from God, these sisters' dignities have come from God as well. We have to give them a voice, and so I seek the international help from women to put the right amount of pressure on the Japanese ambassador and government so that we can put an end to the faith-breaking in Japan," she said.
"If each and every one of seated here this morning decides today to be that agent of change, can we not create a better world? Can we not inspire our children to be that generation of peace? Can we not guarantee our children and grandchildren a safer world?" she said.
The National 18th WFWP Assembly began at New York's historic Manhattan Center with 350 participants in attendance from around the country. The convention aimed to address women's needs in all areas of life including holistic confidence, spirituality, health, beauty, and sisterhood. It could be seen that working together would create change in all parts of life that women have been specially prepared to step in and lead, according to conference brochures.
Rev. Angelika Selle, appointed in April to be the new Women's Federation USA President, opened the convention on Friday evening by honoring the founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, and reminded the conferees of the three goals of the organization: 1) to strengthen the family as the foundation for everlasting peace 2) to develop international service projects in order to encourage living for the sake of others, and 3) to experience peace through reconciliation through the WFWP signature project, "the bridge of peace."
Rev. Selle explained that Rev. In Jin Moon had encouraged her to launch a new phase planned for the years 2010-2013 which would focus on projects in the United States and work involving young women. "Now in whatever we do we should have young women by our side. We are happy to have younger women at this event so that the next generation can be nurtured," Rev Selle said.
After a night set aside for sight-seeing in New York City, the participants gathered on Saturday morning for a warm-up session to get instruction on how to take care of themselves each day, including self-massage tips by massage therapist Miho Panzer.
The conferees heard from Mrs. GracielaRompani de Pacheco,former First Lady of Uruguay, who shared her inspirations after reading the autobiography of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, "Father Moon has experienced safeness, peace, and love, in his youth, which he now uses in his life. His daughter is now showing us all the precepts of Rev. Moon, but is also unique in her own way. I met her in Uruguay and she left behind such strong feelings of love and admiration."
Ms. Linda, education director for Free Teens, USA, then enthralled the audience with her presentation on "The Real Deal on Love, Relationships and Marriage." Her talk recounted her successes educating young adults on the virtues of saving sex until marriage. She noted that in order to "find the right one for a lasting relationship they must first become the right one themselves, adding, "Our children know the right goal, they just don't know how to get there."
Ms. Juanita Pierre-Louis, a holistic health counselor, next spoke on how women can nurture themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. She covered topics ranging from basic nutrition to the healing power of positive thoughts. Women should give themselves positive affirmations such as, "I am centered in divine clarity and understanding," and "I face all my challenges with strength," counseled Ms. Pierre-Louis.
After lunch, guest speaker Patricia Lalonde, a humanitarian and international author, as well as mother of six, shared her experience helping oppressed women in both Afghanistan and Sudan. "We women need to help other women around the world, not just letting politics do this," she urged in her talk titled, "Being a Woman Leader – Giving Woman a voice."
She told about her battles with government officials in order to create schools for both young boys and girls together in Afghanistan, together with her own French NGO of four people: Mobilization of Elected Women in Afghanistan (MEWA). With the success of projects to empower women, "Afghan women now have the means to recover their dignity. And now we have to work to empower them to leadership in order to build their country. I really believe that women are going to bring peace," Lalonde said. She reported she has helped several Muslim women get elected to the Parliament of Afghanistan.
After hearing of projects taking place by women leaders around the world, the audience heard from a panel of six women about a variety of activities being conducted by others locally.
Speakers included Stephanie Mann, a consultant on crime and violence, who spoke of her experience helping to reduce crime and violence in her community in 1968 by 48 percent without support from police. The main focus was the importance of communication among neighbors in communities. "When neighbors don't communicate, families lose check and balance," she said.
Lesa Ellanson, manager of New Hope Farms Equestrian Park, spoke about the importance of the outdoors in each of our lives. She described numerous projects and activities she runs for the public every year in upstate New York. "Loving nature is to love God and humanity," she shared.
Women on the panel also spoke of their developed passions in serving others overseas even from their stateside homes. Evelyne Drake, a native of Haiti, spoke of her passion to do something for her native land, and her work organizing service projects in Haiti since 2008. Diesa Seidel then shared about the process of founding her organization "United Initiatives for Peace," after developing her ambition to do international service work. "When I have an idea, especially when I feel it can really contribute good in the world I will make every effort to pursue it," she explained.
After being refreshed with the power that each of us has through our actions, breakout sessions opened for conferees to visit with professional advisors in nutrition, beauty, cosmetics, and health.
An evening of entertainment and awards followed. The night began with a performance by the Lovin' Life Ministries Band, which had people on their feet dancing to the variety of music offered by distinguished artists.
Awards were given that night to women of distinction, including Patricia Lalonde for her international humanitarian effort in supporting the dignity of women, Stephannie Mann for outstanding leadership in crime and violence prevention, Mrs. Graciela Rompani de Pacheco for outstanding leadership and service for women in Uruguay and South America, and Mrs. Patricia Funderburk Ware for outstanding leadership in motivating and empowering those in need of success. One last award was given to a woman of promise, Ms. Diesa Seidel, for her passion in developing life-changing sport programs for young women worldwide.
After the reading of Emily Dickinson's poem to exemplify the heart of women in WFWP, "If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking," the Bridge of Peace Ceremony was held to exemplify the reconciliation of women from nations and cultures around the world as sisters. Pairs of women came together walking across the bridge, bowing to each other, and then offering a hug. Through the many years of this ceremony taking place around the world, WFWP hopes that each can understand that reconciliation, the process of repentance and forgiveness, gives birth to the possibility of love.
Dinner and a night of dancing followed, led by the ballroom dancing expert Ariana Moon, who has been teaching lessons to Lovin' Life Ministries members of all ages. Participants showed their skills at waltz, swing, and foxtrot!
The next morning, assembly participants attended the Lovin' Life Ministries service, held each Sunday at the Manhattan Center with sermons given by Rev. In Jin Moon. Directly following the service everyone was invited to the Women's Health and Beauty Fair held for vendors to share health and beauty products.