London, United Kingdom—International Women’s Day 2019 was marked by UPF with a program in the House of Lords.
Women and men had come from all over the country to be a part of the evening program on March 25.
Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece warmly welcomed the guests to the Parliament. Then Margaret Ali, a director of UPF-UK, gave introductory remarks to open the event saying that the Co-Founders of UPF, Father and Mother Moon described this time as the 'age of women' to take their rightful place in partnership with men. She emphasised women’s power to negotiate in areas of peace and development and to utilise unique nurturing compassion, often demonstrated in the home, to show the world how men and women can work together in society. She added that UPF principles uphold the dignity of women in equal status with men both representing their unique value and nature. Everyone loses if women are not in this position because the qualities that women can offer are not brought to bear on the tasks at hand.
Madi Sharma, an entrepreneur who heads the Madi Group, spoke passionately about how she ensured women are included in all policy making at the European Economic Council. Consequently, women are now included at all levels, whether in parliament or in work.
Gender equality is not a female issue; it’s an issue for all of society, Ms. Sharma said. Women have created the greatest number of small and medium-sized enterprises, the most jobs since the recession, and are the most active peace negotiators, she said. When women are in politics or indeed in any endeavour, productivity increases, she said.
Women possess different qualities from men but nevertheless are equal to men, Ms. Sharma said. She encouraged women to have many experiences in life and to give less weight to CVs. She based this statement on her own personal experience of having no academic qualifications and being a survivor of victimisation at home, among other obstacles. Today she is a highly efficient entrepreneur, helping hundreds of women, and has become one of the top 100 influential women in the realm of gender equality and more.
Dr. Dan Guinness, director of the organization Good Lad Initiative, spoke about his work with boys in schools and universities. People often ask him how to change policies to have better equality and pay, he said. However, his organization works in the culture of the people he works with. One aspect of his work is with defensiveness, he said; men in workplaces often talk in terms of being apologetic because of not understanding women colleagues. Another major point is active resistance, in which men feel triggered by female activism as an attack on them as men.
Paola Diana, the best-selling author of Saving the World, described having grown up with violence in the home directed toward herself and her mother. Ms. Diana, however, wanted to change this cycle. Coming from Italy, a country where feminism is still considered negatively, she actively worked to promote taxation policies that enhance gender equality. She expressed how basic processes of life, such as safety features in cars, are still designed for men. She urged women to rise up to break the cycle and open up the era of women.
Author and broadcaster Carole Stone, CBE, told the story of the development of her career, describing the dozens of organizations she has started, as well as others with which she has actively worked.
She related that a friend once told her, “It’s amazing what you have done, despite having children and a husband.” She responded, “Well, I am what I am because of them.”
Ms. Stone encouraged women to “have a go at what you want to achieve!” She presented her story of experiencing victimization in her marriage, and how easy it is to accept this role.
Wellness advocate Dr. Gill Barham observed that woman often lack energy and vitality. She quoted the Dalai Lama, who said, “The age ahead is when the world will be saved by the Western woman.”
We have left the age dominated by masculine power and are moving into an age of love, compassion and community, where women are the activists, Dr. Barham said. However, we don’t want to collapse on the way, trying to be superwomen both at home and in the world. Therefore we need self-care to fulfill our role of contributing to this new age, she said.
Dongsoon Chen, a representative of Women’s Federation for World Peace, an organization that is affiliated with UPF, said she has seen women working so hard that they become exhausted. As an intern with WFWP, she said she wants to see women break through.
Recently Ms. Chen attended the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. She explained that one woman said, “What we are working on now is to secure the prosperity of 50 percent of the world.” From her recent journey to the United Nations, she said she felt empowered and hopeful for the future of women.
International Women’s Day is the time when we check our inner compasses to find how we can contribute to the world through our female powers, Ms. Chen said. What is important for true awakening of all people is to foster understanding, she said.
David Mahoney, whose organization is creating fairer environments, told how he had been oblivious to the sadness women go through because of unfair environments until his wife expressed how she was affected by this. He emphasized the importance of understanding and choosing to act differently in meeting with women and the importance of encouraging others to do so.
Maisha Sumah, only 20 years old, is the youngest expert in the National Health Service with regard to young people’s mental health. She is a confident and eloquent speaker but told of growing up in an environment of abuse, to which her mother was also subjected. Everyone is focused on their own life, but as a part of society we need to be aware of others’ needs, especially the needs of the young, she said. To that end, Ms. Sumah joined community groups; helping other young people.
A supportive community can provide the environment and impetus for young people to turn their lives around, she said. Ms. Sumah was so passionate that she moved many in the audience to tears.
Michael Balcomb, the regional chair of FFWPU for Europe and the Middle East, an organization that is affiliated with UPF, mentioned that women are experts at listening, which is what the world needs to come to peace. Because we are spiritual beings, he said, we feel lacking in today’s world where politicians emphasize practical solutions but forget spiritual values.
The event was only two hours long, but each speaker was so inspiring, it was commonly felt that this event should have lasted longer. Indeed, the room was buzzing with activity at the end as everyone hastened out of the room, but so engrossed in sharing insights that the discussion followed with them. It is our hope that the energy from this conference can drive men and women to create a society that is more respectful to women and uses women’s unique qualities for the betterment of society.
Margaret Ali Speech in Full:
UPF principles uphold the dignity of women in equal status with men both representing their unique value and nature. Everyone loses if women are not in this position because the qualities that women can offer are not brought to bear on the tasks at hand. There are qualities such as reconciling, nurturing, demonstrating compassion in times of need, utilising motherly nature of affection and opting or negotiation when necessary and finally the famous, multitasking which are on average more available to women. It is not necessary to become more masculine than men to become leaders, as some women leaders have forged themselves.
The Co-Founders of UPF, Father and Mother Moon described this time as the 'age of women' to take their rightful place in partnership with men. He called for the creation of a 'women's peace corps' to support the efforts to resolve conflicts and promote peace. I found it interesting that later the ground breaking United Nations Resolution 1325 called for the same dynamic of the inclusion of those qualities in peace-making efforts. 'The Security Council adopted resolution (S/RES/1325) on women and peace and security on 31 October 2000. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.'
We need to do this together with men, involving them in the process, in order to obtain women's rightful position. This will demonstrate the mutual benefit of working together and complementing one another’s qualities. This is the principle of the basis for all relationships between men and women, that we need one another. (Including in the most essential of all partnerships, in marriage.) This attitude will also allow men to take their position in partnership with women for the benefit of all.
From a recent speech by the other Co-Founder of UPF, Mother Hak Ja Han Moon, on the relationship of men and women:
“Beloved woman leaders who seek peace! What is the path that humankind should take today? In the end, the problems afflicting humanity can only be resolved through the logic of love and the understanding that we are all one family under God. We have championed and taught this precious truth throughout our lives. This ideal represents the path that will lead humanity to a world of everlasting peace and happiness.
We women were not put on earth merely to help, or to be protected by, men. We are independent individuals who, as representatives of the feminine aspect of God's nature, are meant to help men become more complete.
Through true love, women are to be men's precious partners in love. Men and women are absolutely equal in terms of value.
Men and women who unite through the true love that is inherent in the original ideal share the same position and have equal worth. Also, they attain the right to be with each other, wherever they may be. Thus, a man and woman who are brought into oneness through the original love in God's ideal of true love have been created as equal beings, sharing not only the same status and the right of participation, but also their possessions with each other.
Men and women do not need to struggle with each other, because they do not need to imitate the characteristics, dispositions or roles of the other. It is not necessary to confront, compete or covet the things of the other, or take them by force. Instead, by giving what one has to the other, with true love, and by completing the other, they can become united as a greater whole and share in a relationship of joint ownership.
Now women and men should play a major role in world history, by serving alongside each other like the wheels of a great engine pulling the construction of a peaceful world forward. Today I invite women to accept an important role and become the turning point in building a new century characterised by a loving, peaceful culture.
I sincerely ask you to follow the path of a true mother, the path of a true wife, the path of a true daughter and true sister, and the path of a true woman leader, who will build a unified world where freedom, peace, and happiness overflow. Begin in your family your church, your community.”
Father Moon always urged us to live without casting any shadow, which he called a "life set at high noon." If every one of us lives like a brightly shining lamp, no shadows will be cast. No places of darkness will be created. If we only receive things, they become our debts. Please repay your debts by living a life of true love, of living for others, spreading light throughout the world and wiping away the tears of those less fortunate."