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Dr. Junsook Moon, Chairwoman of Global Peace Women and New Women's Leadership

New Women’s Leadership Culture for Peace and Development: From the Home to the World 

The following is the address delivered during the Global Peace Convention 2017 by Dr. Junsook Moon, chairwoman of Global Peace Women, the women's division of the Global Peace Foundation.

Dr. Junsook Moon, chairwoman of Global Peace Women, the
women's division of the Global Peace Foundation

To all the leaders, aspiring leaders, and participants gathered here today—welcome to this important forum to establish a new women's leadership culture for peace and development. I especially wish to recognize the movers and shakers of the Global Peace Women’s movement, including Dr. Nona Ricafort, who has been an incredible support for the All Lights Village project, H.E. Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo,  Dr. Eva Latham, Hon. Cynthia Aguilar Villar, Donna Schuller, and Rachel Murray. Thank you for dedicating your life’s work to the harmony of our human family.

Whenever I visit the Philippines, I feel warmly welcomed by my Filipino brothers and sisters. It is fitting that we are gathered in this beautiful country, which has a legacy of great women leaders. I was also inspired to hear that during this Global Peace Convention, the month-long Panagbenga festival is taking place. Not only does this flower festival celebrate the season of blossoms, but it also celebrates the rebuilding of Baguio City after the 1990 earthquake. We often associate blooming flowers with rebirth and new beginning. I hope that this gathering can nourish a new start of women’s leadership in building peace.

The need to focus on women’s leadership characteristics

Today, the global community is making progress toward encouraging women’s participation in peacebuilding. In 2000, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. More than 60 countries, including Uganda, the Philippines, United States, Nigeria, Korea, Paraguay, Japan, and Kenya developed national action plans to include more women in preventing and resolving conflict and sustaining peace.

Although the effort to increase engagement is very important, our focus should not only be limited to the number of women leaders. I invite you to also consider, what are the greatest leadership qualities that women should aspire to cultivate?

Uplifting women’s value as endowed by God

Global Peace Women believes that leaders must first understand and respect each person’s value. But how can we understand the value of other people if we don’t understand our own value? For this reason, women’s leadership starts with appreciating our innate value as women.

The Women's Leadership Culture track drew women
from all over the world.

Did any of us choose to be born as a man or a woman? None of us chose our identity at birth, but this is our God-given destiny. Both men and women are endowed with intrinsic value by our Creator, and the qualities of each are complementary and essential. The qualities of women provide an environment where peace can take root and grow on every level.

Yet the world struggles with gender-based violence, human trafficking, and many other social problems because family members and women themselves do not recognize their value. What about us? Do we truly recognize our highest value as a representative of womanhood?

One of Global Peace Women’s priorities is thus to uplift the value of women around the world. For example, GPW Kenya launched a mentorship program for university students and young professionals to work with teenage girls from urban slums. By helping them to understand their value, young women will avoid the dangers of drug abuse and teen pregnancy. They will benefit from role models and tools to build healthy, successful futures. I am happy to hear that, already, the girls in this program are gaining self-confidence and respecting themselves more.

Respect can help us to appreciate our true value and the value of each person. Once we understand the value of other people, we naturally treat them with empathy and love. Respecting our family and community members in this way creates the harmonious culture of One Family under God.

Women’s leadership in the family

It is said that women provide a foundation for peace as “The Pillar of the Family.”  Daughters are more likely to care for their elderly parents and siblings. Numerous studies have found that, because of their warm emotional support and frequent communication, sisters develop harmonious relationships with their siblings.

Respect can help us to appreciate our true value and the value of each person. Once we understand the value of other people, we naturally treat them with empathy and love. Respecting our family and community members in this way creates the harmonious culture of One Family under God.

Most importantly, mothers devote themselves to nourish, educate, and raise children since conception. From painful labor to nursing, mothers embody a sacrificial heart for the sake of the next generation. At her best, a mother is the lifelong source of unconditional love, harmony, and counsel. Together with the father, a mother instills the core values and moral compass in children so that they can make wise decisions, navigate relationships, and contribute to society. Virtuous mothers ensure that global peace begins in the home, one family at a time.

A balanced understanding of women’s leadership

Unfortunately, the public and media often overlook the peacebuilding impact of women leaders in the family. In some cases, women’s contributions in the home are even described as demeaning. Rather than appreciated for the nurturing heart of a daughter, sister, wife, and mother, women’s roles in the family are often disdained. This is because we live in a culture that values career advancement and material gain above all else.

Dr. Junsook Moon and Mrs. Rachel Murray, Global Peace
Women representative for the United States.

The truth is, the family is the hub and model for all other social relationships. No one can deny that healthy and happy families depend on women’s unconditional love for the family. Peace begins in the home because it is where we learn to trust, respect, and work together with members of our human family. The warm and nurturing family environment that women create is the model for the peaceful world of One Family under God.

Women also play a crucial role as peace educators. For example, GPW Korea initiated a program for unification education in the home. As you may know, the 70-year division between North and South Korea has also divided the hearts and minds of the Korean people. This is a huge challenge to Korea’s unification. So, every day at the dinner table, South Korean mothers teach their children that North Koreans are family members. Women-led education is healing the division of the Korean people’s hearts to prepare for Korea’s peaceful unification.

The extended family model for peace

Ultimately, GPW believes that true women leaders should aspire to embrace all human beings as members of their own family. This is embodied in the intergenerational extended family model.

My husband, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, emphasizes the importance of the extended family model in the peacebuilding process in his recently published book, The Korean Dream. He writes,

“The structure of the extended family with its many different roles creates a framework for intergenerational cooperation and a wide variety of relationships through which we can cultivate the best elements of our humanity. [...] These lessons, taken to heart by each new generation raised within the extended family, allow us to relate together with other human beings in a cooperative, peaceful, and cohesive manner, whether in the smallest social unit of the family, or the largest: the global community.”

In order to facilitate this ideal, GPW launched the extended family movement through forums and family festivals in Uruguay and Nepal. This effort promotes a perspective by which everyone we relate with is like our own family member.

In the Philippines, I heard that you have the custom of mano. This is when children greet elders by asking for their hand to receive blessing and wisdom. It is a beautiful expression of intergenerational respect. Throughout the world, I hope that we can establish similar traditions to convey the heart of respect between husband and wife, brothers and sisters, and neighbors and coworkers. Traditions that celebrate these types of extended family relationships create a loving and harmonious environment.

Women’s leadership strengths

If we all work to expand the extended family culture with embracing hearts, I am certain that we can make a great impact in our families and societies. After all, women are natural peacemakers.

International, interreligious, intercultural women of the Women's Leadership Culture track during the Global Peace Convention 2017.

Mounting evidence shows that women promote peace and security through increasing dialogue, building consensus, and de-escalating tension. Experts say that the 2014 Bangsamoro peace agreement in the Philippines was successful because of women’s leadership. Many Filipinos agree that Ates (older sisters) are less likely to be perceived as threats, and more likely to compromise with empathy and love to achieve common goals. Women legislators are also more likely to prevent the recurrence of conflict by caring for marginalized populations.

Global Peace Foundation’s One Family under God Campaign in Nigeria is a good example of how women strengthen reconciliation. This initiative builds cohesion and promotes peace between different religious, ethnic, and tribal groups. During the Christmas season, H.E. Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, wife of the former Vice President and Grand Patron of GPF Nigeria (one of today’s presenters), expressed her generous heart by sharing rice with all Muslim and Christian participants. This thoughtfulness and warmth demonstrates women leaders’ strengths in creating an environment of harmony and cooperation.

The core of the example above is the culture of selfless service and unconditional love. These traits are essential to women’s efforts in building bridges of peace. For the last eight years, GPW Paraguay honored service-minded leaders by recognizing them with the Living for the Sake of Others Award. Even if we are not from Paraguay, I hope that we can all aspire to live a life of service. In addition, let us strive to raise generations of peacemakers who serve humanity as members of their extended family. If this happens, our homes will truly be a starting point for world peace.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to remind everyone that the dream of peace requires each of our efforts. For women to fully promote and sustain peace throughout the world, their innate God-given value should be recognized and celebrated on every level. Let us cherish who we are as women, and let us strive to become harmonizers and peacemakers in the family and society. As the GPW motto states, peace begins in the home.

I am honored to be among such great women who deeply love God and are dedicated to peace. I hope that you can join with me in committing our hearts, effort, and unique qualities to this noble cause.

May God bless you and your families.

Thank you very much.