Celebrating International Women's Day
Reflections of Love and Conscience and a Vision for Action
In celebration of International Women's Day, the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) hosted a webinar on March 8, 2022, inviting visionary leaders, including a former president, ambassadors, and outstanding women to share their thoughts on gender equality and sustainable development.
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze, president of FOWPAL, received a video message from H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in honor of International Women’s Day 2022. His Excellency highly praises women for their contributions to the world while acknowledging that “in all countries, women are scandalously under-represented in the halls of power and the boardrooms of business.” “We cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality. We need to turn the clock forward on women's rights. The time is now," His Excellency emphasizes.
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze delivered welcome remarks, stressing, “International Women's Day is a time for all of us to celebrate our achievements and think ahead about what we can do to further equality, freedom, human rights, and all forms of justice. We shall act on our love and conscience and treat everyone with respect and understanding. Equality begins with the power of action from the heart, and sustainability is the sum of each individual's efforts. By following the light of conscience, we will be able to build a more peaceful, harmonious, and sustainable future for the residents of the planet and all creations.”
H.E. Mr. Filip Vujanović, former President of Montenegro, sent Dr. Hong a letter in support of the event. His Excellency stated, “The role of women in our contemporary world society is irreplaceable. Their leadership, activism, vision, and stance through the past and present times in creating a sustainable, conscious, peaceful and democratic, and developed world are crucial.” “We need more women as leaders, and we need to do whatever it takes to provide them with the opportunity. I am sure that humanity won't be disappointed. The best way to congratulate this special day is not just by verifying what women deserve but to work forcefully and devotedly to improving their position by taking concrete actions,” His Excellency added.
Seven distinguished women and two gentlemen joined a panel discussion on gender equality. H.E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Ambassador of Nigeria to the UN, encouraged everyone to take action to promote gender equality and to “go beyond talking to look at policies and to also to look at how effective policies are and thereby make changes that would make the critical difference.” “It is not just equality for today. It is really a marker to get us going forward to ensure that we do all we can as individuals, as communities, as policy makers, as politicians, to guarantee equality in gender in all aspects of life.”
H.E. Mrs. Roxanna de los Santos de Piantini, Alternate Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Austria, through her determination, hard work, and perseverance, broke down gender barriers and began to study law at 35 and later became an outstanding lawyer and an Ambassador. Her Excellency talked about the importance of reversing gender inequalities and urged all nations to empower women with good education at all levels, to create sound legal frameworks and policies to ensure gender equality, and to establish entrepreneur programs to help women build successful businesses and become financially independent.
Dr. Kuiljeit Uppaal, the world's first image scientist and impact strategist and a recipient of the prestigious Karmaveer Chakra Award, instituted by the UN, was afflicted with polio when she was six months old. She became a classical dancer, gymnast, national-level athlete, pilot, and holder of numerous prestigious awards via sheer willpower and dedication. She addressed a wide range of gender-related issues, including gender stereotypes in language and professional routes, underrepresentation of women in higher-level political positions, beauty standards, gender inequity in home obligations, movies, and novels, and so on. She hoped that “through collective thought and action, we all achieve a global society that is socially conditioned with a great conscience-driven mindset towards equality for all.”
Dr. Preeti Phutela, headmistress of Venkateshwar Global School in India, spoke of the importance of infusing courage in women and empowering them. She encouraged people to be champions of gender equality by saying, “Let us be true. Let us be kind. Let us be empathetic. Let us feel whatever injustice is happening around us. Let us raise our voice. Let us encourage and empower our ladies all around so they have a sustainable tomorrow.”
Mr. Peter Jam, musician and peacebuilding educator, stated that 50 percent of leadership positions should be held by women. He reasoned that since there have been a lot of wars and corruption when the majority of leaders are men, it is worthwhile to try to put women in those leadership positions. Men and women should not compete with each other but rather complement each other, he said, adding that the power of music is very valuable in changing people's hearts and souls.
Ms. Vandana Chaudhary, co-founder of Rolling Nature and Initiative Earth, stated that achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will be extremely challenging if women are not equally involved or at the forefront as leaders, advocates, and activists. Women and girls must enhance their demands and actions for their own social and economic development while organizations must strengthen their policies toward women, she added, highlighting the need for more female leaders around the world to bring out the best in other women.
Ms. Preeti Kanthake, an Indian school teacher, said that she married at 16 and had her first child at 17, and that she had shrugged a lot with her situation and worked extremely hard for professional and personal development. She thought that empowering a woman begins with the woman herself, because if she cannot help herself, she cannot help others. She believes that every girl should strive to better herself.
Ms. Asma Toorkham, senior program manager at ARB Founder Toorkham Foundation,
began challenging gender-based assumptions at 10, and she was confused at being considered authoritative. She wanted to make decisions about her life but was not allowed, which motivated her to advocate not only for her rights but also for those young women and girls who can't speak for themselves. Women should be involved in decision-making that will affect their lives, she said.
Ms. Monia Mahmoudi, a teacher in Tunisia, expressed her joy of attending the event and speaking on behalf of many rural women in her community. Based on Malala Yousafzai’s belief that “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world,” Ms. Mahmoudi said that a woman plus an opportunity can change the world, encouraging all societies to provide equal opportunities for girls and women to achieve gender equality.
Additionally, many promoters of gender equality shared videos in support of this meaningful event, and Mexican musician Ivan Ricardi presented a beautiful song called “Shine of Women,” encouraging people to take action to change the world for the better.
In response to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and the raging global pandemic, Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze gave a prayer for peace, encouraging everyone to pray daily for the end of the war and the pandemic: “Let us illuminate our inner lights, / Calm our hearts and pray for the world . . . Love yourselves and the people of the world. / With selfless true love, / We are awakening people’s conscience. / Let us consolidate all kind thoughts, / Apply our conscience to benefit the world / And return to our happy home.”