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ILC2020 The Americas Session 5: Women’s Leadership in Times of Global Crisis

The Americas—The International Association of First Ladies for Peace (IAFLP) addressed the topic “Women’s Leadership in Times of Global Crisis” as part of UPF’s global problem-solving conference. It was one of nine webinar sessions simultaneously occurring in three time zones (Korea, Japan, Asia-Pacific; Africa, Europe, Middle East; North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean) during the September 11–13 International Leadership Conference. The online program was open to all who registered and was watched by 809 viewers.

The moderator was Dr. Susan Taffer, who is the founder of the World Connections Foundation

Angelika Selle (IAFLP Regional Coordinator, North America; President, Women’s Federation for World Peace) opened the meeting with prayer, asking that these extraordinary women leaders, as women and mothers, nurturers, primary educators and preservers of life, can bring nurturing, healing, uplifting comfort and the feminine touch to our ailing humanity and suffering planet. In her welcoming remarks, she stated that these presenters would be addressing the global crisis and current issues from a woman’s perspective, providing a new vision, compassion and hope. She noted that IAFLP is a project of the International Summit Council for Peace. The first session took place in December 2019, and at the World Summit 2020, the Inaugural World Assembly of IAFLP took place. Both organizations were founded by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon to help create a world of peace as One Family Under God

Dr. Sun Jin Moon (International Senior Vice President, Women’s Federation for World Peace) welcomed all the women leaders who are coming together at this time of crisis. She noted that the crisis puts women at even greater risk. Women are more adversely affected by the economic impacts, educational setbacks and physical abuse in the home. She passionately emphasized that women’s leadership is absolutely essential, especially to live by the founding vision of UPF and the ideals of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values. Dr. Moon quoted from her father’s autobiography, A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: “The coming world will be one of reconciliation and peace based on women’s maternal character, love, and sociability. Developing families filled with love would be the cornerstone for peace.” Dr. Moon called for a new era when women’s leadership will be present in all domains.

Mdm. Hilda Patricia Marroquin de Morales (First Lady, Guatemala, 2016–2020) emphasized that “after the storm comes the calm.” She said that after a moment of crisis, a time of peace will come when the problem that generated the crisis will be solved. She noted that technological advances in communications, including social networks, helped to spread information worldwide. Lessons learned are the following: 1. Humanity and human life are fragile: Care for it. 2. If we can unite, we can be stronger, especially valuing responsibility, friendship, kindness, solidarity and courage. 3. We recognize the value of the family where universal values are taught and cultivated. Mdm. Morales expressed support for Mother Moon’s work toward a unified Korea, so the families separated for 70 years can be reunited.

Mdm. Maria Fernanda Flores de Aleman (First Lady, Nicaragua, 1997–2002) began her talk by greeting and recognizing Mother Moon for keeping her husband’s legacy alive and being an example of peace and love for all. She said in these difficult complex moments we need to change our way of living but, even more important, recognize that our spiritual development is the center of everything. She observed that even though governments did not take responsibility, families did follow WHO recommendations. She expressed great concern for the problem of femicide and other extreme violence against women. Not only the state needs to act to prevent it, but each person and family needs to watch out for other families who may be in danger. Keeping God as the fundamental axis of everything, we can stay within our principles and values, keeping our faith and our love for others firm.

Mdm. Emilia Alfaro de Franco (First Lady, Paraguay, 2012–2013) assessed the current situation of women in relationship to the pandemic as showing the asymmetry in society. She emphasized the importance of women leaders in Paraguay to stand firm in goals achieved and work toward greater participation. She noted that women’s leadership contributes greatly to a stable society. She also observed the increase in domestic violence and the overburdening of women on the family level. She said that although women have been the hardest hit, they will also be the backbone of recovery. She encouraged women to participate in all levels of society, including politics, especially daring to vote for women!

Hon. Margaret Best (Member of Parliament, Ontario, Canada, 2007–2013) noted that 2020 is an unprecedented year of challenges; yet we must move forward with hope and optimism. Covid-19 has destabilized our families and our world. She stated that historically, in times of crisis, women have stepped out of their comfort zones and made meaningful and important contributions, achieving tremendous success. She made mention of Florence Nightingale, Queen Elizabeth II, Angela Merkel, and most recently, the prime minister of Barbados, the first woman elected there, who rescued a number of individuals stranded at sea, from her heart of empathy and compassion. She especially praised Mother Moon for her care and education at the World Summit2020 concerning Covid-19. She ended her talk encouraging everyone to step out of their comfort zone, do small things to help others, give hope, and make a difference in someone’s life.

Dr. Samia Burton (Former Vice President, Congressional Club, Washington, DC; Assistant Professor of Medicine, George Washington University, Washington, DC) described the IAFLP as “La crème de la crème,” the best of the best. As a physician, Dr. Burton noted that Covid-19 is especially hurting families. She urged leaders to stay strong and calm. She is concerned with the effects of the pandemic on families, as evidenced by increased anxiety, depression, suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. She warned against the politicizing of medicine, emphasizing the importance of receiving the right advice and working with the country’s public health organizations. Dr. Burton ended her talk by pointing out the silver lining: The pandemic has brought humanity together. By putting our heads and hearts together and practicing positivity, much can be accomplished. She believes that IAFLP will be a great resource and inspiration to heads of state and leaders worldwide.

The September 11–13 International Leadership Conference was created to engage world leaders and citizens on issues ranging from rebuilding post Covid-19 economies to cooperative peacemaking. Under the rubric of UPF’s signature values of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values, its aim was to address solutions in commerce, health, environment, family, and social issues. “This year has seen dramatic disruptions not only due to the Covid-19 epidemic but in geopolitics, the world economy, the media, religion and all levels of society,” observes UPF Chair Dr. Thomas Walsh. “And yet, while there are reasons to despair, there is tremendous goodwill and desire to act on emerging opportunities and innovations that can relieve suffering around the world.”


To go back to the Executive summary, click here.

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