International Women's Day
Paying Tribute to All Women with Love, Conscience, and a Culture of Peace
To celebrate the tremendous contributions and achievements by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and a faster recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) hosted a virtual event in celebration of the International Women,s Day on March 8, 2021. The event received over 12,000 views.
H.E. Mr. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, sent in a special message to honor this important day, emphasizing, “Pandemic recovery is our chance to leave behind generations of exclusion and inequalities. Whether running a country, a business or a popular movement, women are making contributions that are delivering for all and driving progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. It is time to build an equal future. This is a job for everyone — and for the benefit of everyone.”
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze, president of FOWPAL, expressed his gratitude to women all over the world for their selfless love, saying that no matter what field and position they are in, they are an important force to foster social progress and stability. He also stressed the importance of conscience in enhancing the well-being of women and other members of the human family. “Conscience gives us the courage to pursue, speak out, and take action for fairness and equality. We have to let our conscience lead us to respect everyone, regardless of gender. Through conscience, love can be guided and realized. Only with love, will human rights and equality become possible, and peace can be achieved through human rights. Let us use the power of conscience to promote change and take action for world peace and harmony.”
H.E. Mr. Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, former president of Trinidad and Tobago, pointed out that “The celebration of International Women’s Day is not about emasculating men or diminishing their relevance. It is about progressive social vision, treating women and young girls equally, fairly and justly. It is a rally call to all decent men and women to stand up and be counted in this honorable fight for women empowerment, gender equality, parity, and social justice.”
“There must be strategic succession planning. Women and young girls must be cultured and nurtured in a holistic environment that encourages their genuine development and success so that generations of competent and skilled women will emerge, ready and able to face the challenges and responsibilities of leadership positions,” said H.E. Mrs. Reema Harrysingh-Carmona, former first lady of Trinidad and Tobago, adding that “Education and women empowerment are about the inherent right of women and young girls to shape, control and be in charge of their own lives and their own destinies.”
Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, president of Youth for Human Rights International in the U.S., mentioned the huge strides women made in fields of science, medicine, politics, etc. in the past two centuries, emphasizing that “Challenging ourselves to push the limits for ever-increasing improvement of conditions is always the way forward. But I caution. Long-term plans, expansions, and dreams should always be built on the solid foundations of universal human rights and responsibilities.”
Five distinguished women and a gentleman, Hugues Sanon, UN representative of COJEP International, joined a panel discussion on gender equality. H.E. Ms. Roxanna De los Santos de Piantini, Alternate Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the UN (Vienna), shared her remarkable journey of breaking down gender barriers. With determination, hard work, and perseverance, she began to study law at 35 and later became an outstanding lawyer and an Ambassador. “Three words are the key to promote gender equality mindset and practice: righteousness, perseverance, and solidarity,” she said, adding, “Only expressing solidarity by upholding and helping other women stand up, we will be aware of our own strength and ability to transform this world.”
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, shared her amazing life journey. She was afflicted with polio when she was six months old. With sheer determination and perseverance, she became a classical dancer, gymnast, national-level athlete, pilot, and the recipient of various renowned awards. “You have all the power from within you. That inner warrior has indomitable power. All you have to do is touch base with it and move forward,” she said, offering words of encouragement to everyone: “Be your own benchmark and be better than the last time that you performed. In other words, just keep bettering yourself.”
Ms. Rupa Dash, co-founder and CEO of the World Woman Foundation, said, “Investing in women-owned businesses and creating more female founders and entrepreneurs is the way to rethink the global reset.” She also stated, “If we want an equal future for ourselves and for our next generation, women definitely have to step into their own boldness and brilliance and embrace it and talk about the ideas that they have.”
Dr. Susan Zipp, advisor at Communications Coordination Committee for the UN, shared that at the age of seven, she met with the then UN Secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld, who encouraged her to dream big and inspired her to become actively involved in the UN affairs. She mentioned the importance of listening to one’s conscience, saying that there are “a little demon” on one of her shoulders and "a little angel” on the other. “They battle in my head. I have to take everything, all the noise that’s in my head and swallow my pride and bring it into my heart because when I come from my heart, I come with wisdom.”
Mrs. Amina L. Weewo, the representative of the Flame of Peace in Bahrain, originally came from Finland. As a teenager, she began making pen pals with people from around the world. She has traveled to many countries, visited Bahrain by chance, and chosen to live there. Her cross-cultural experience has enabled her to better connect with other women. She urged women to embrace, help, and respect each other. She said, “I hope we come out of this COVID era wiser and more connected.”
Mr. Hugues Sanon, UN representative of COJEP International, commended the outstanding woman panelists for sharing their powerful personal stories to inspire others. He mentioned that countless women today still experience violence, discrimination, and inequality against them. He urged everyone to respect women and fight for their right to education, freedom of speech, and political right. “Today, I call on all our leaders to ensure freedom and equality for women so that they can flourish.”
Additionally, many other advocates for women’s rights also shared their messages in support of the day, including H.E. Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, first female president of Mauritius; HIRH Herta Margarete Habsburg-Lothringen, president of the Flame of Peace; Ms. Naaz Farhana, founder president of Dhaka Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bangladesh; Reverend Sister Jacqueline Bernadette from Cameroon; Ms. Loyda Abreu, executive director of International Artistic Collective Dominican Brush Strokes; etc. A music video titled “Women Shine” by Ivan Ricardi in Mexico was presented, and FOWPAL shared an upbeat song “Conscience Pulls Us Through,” encouraging everyone to work together to overcome the pandemic.
Last summer the Executive Board of UNESCO requested that the International Day of Conscience be observed annually on April 5 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and in UNESCO field offices, with the participation of Member States and other partners. As April 5, 2021 will mark the second International Day of Conscience, FOWPAL cordially invites everyone to join the United Nations and UNESCO to celebrate this important day. It hopes that more people will follow the guidance of their conscience and make the world a better place!