UN INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY CENTENARY 1911 - 2011
House of Lords, London
9 March, 2011
Lord King, Baroness Verma and Lady Hodgson, members of the panel, ladies and gentlemen, sisters; it is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to share a few words with you at this special gathering here this evening.I think it is very significant that on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of International Women’s Day we can hold this meeting at the seat of political power in the United Kingdom. When International Women’s Day was established in 1911, women in this country did not have the right to vote. Since then we have seen the influence of women growing over the years, culminating in the election of Baroness Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in 1979. In a few years we will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II whose reign represents a beacon of stability in a rapidly changing world. These two great and historical women have been an example and an inspiration for people throughout the world. And yet, the true power of a woman does not alone lie in her ability to hold public office or wield great political influence. Rather it is in her ability to empathize with others. Until now history has been governed by the “logic of power”, but if we want to have peace it is necessary to change the world through the “logic of love”, and it is through their wisdom in this area women can make the greatest contribution. Throughout history women have suffered injustice and discrimination and in wars they have had to bear the cross of widowhood or the loss of their sons. These experiences have been very personal and painful leading them to understand that in a war there are no “enemies”, just the tragic reality of families suffering.
In her inaugural speech at the founding of the Women’s Federation for World Peace in April 1992, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon emphasized the three important roles of women: to become a true daughter of God, a true wife and a true mother. Before she is someone’s daughter, sister, wife or mother a woman has the priceless value of being a daughter of God. It is on this basis that she becomes the centre of love in the family allowing her to demonstrate an extraordinary level of devotion and self-sacrifice, thus creating an environment in which children can grow to become the future leaders of society.
When a woman enters public life with these qualities she brings with her a unique ability to understand the feelings of others and a very practical approach to problem-solving. Research suggests that women in public life tend to be more honest and are therefore trusted more. As women we can make great strides if we employ our deepest qualities to influence changes in our society.
The Women’s Federation for World Peace was established not just to teach ideals related to women but also to initiate programmes which demonstrate the power of humanitarian service based on a heart of love. The famous Catholic nun Mother Teresa once pointed out that her aim in serving the poor and dying was not just to feed them physically but also to help them gain a sense of their value and dignity. It is with this spirit that WFWP, as an NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, organizes hundreds of programmes each year on every continent. This includes service projects, clothing and food drives, the distribution of medical supplies and education. WFWP is also at the forefront in organizing conferences and other programmes which deal with issues related to the empowerment of women.
I sincerely believe that the time has come for women to demonstrate our best God-given qualities and embrace the world with a heart of love and compassion. It is appropriate that, as we enter the second century of the International Women’s Day, we look forward with hope about the future in which our role can be understood and fully appreciated.
My dear sisters (and brothers), I want to express my thanks to those who have helped to put this programme together. I hope that our discussions during this meeting will serve as the basis of our fruitful working together in the future. Thank you for your taking time out of your busy schedules to be here with us this evening.
May God bless you and your families.