Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. It is indeed a pleasure for me to participate in the Global Peace Women Leadership Conference and to visit for the first time Seoul, and this beautiful country. I bring greetings from the USA and my colleagues who work in the collaborative strengthening families and communities networks across the US. Through our collective efforts we seek to empower women and men as innovative leaders in their homes, communities, and society at large. We believe a healthy family is the foundation that promotes child well-being, creates safe and thriving communities and builds a strong peaceable nation.
I would like to focus my remarks today on the theme of this conference, “Women’s leadership in Social Transformation through Family Values”.
The Tale of Two Cities?
You may be familiar with the 18th century English novelist, Charles Dicken’s classic quote in the Tale of Two Cities…”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. “ I submit to you that this phrase could aptly describe the status of women in the 21st century in the USA and perhaps in much of the world. Over the past fifty years, powerful cultural and social forces have challenged the roles of women and men in family life. Rapid demographic and social changes in the United States over the past four or five decades have fundamentally disrupted traditional marriage and family patterns. What once forcefully organized American life no longer does so.
On the one hand, research studies of high-net-worth women in the US show that women create and control an increasing share of wealth and have a powerful economic influence in the home, workforce and community—as business owners, executives, investors, philanthropists, consumers, heads of household, caregivers and role models for the next generation. Yet, on the other hand, a disproportionate number of women are female only headed households with children living below the poverty line. Social research shows that both adults and children are better off in healthy married two parent families. Many efforts have been made in the US by public and private groups, including religious activists, therapeutic professionals, family practitioners, educations and federal and state government officials to implement programs to strengthen marriage, lower divorce rates, reduce out-of-wedlock births and encourage responsible fatherhood and parenting.
Women Leaders and Family Values
Regardless of the economic or social standing of women in society, women as the transmitters of family and cultural values to their children and families must be equipped to address the complexities of modern day life. There is a saying that if you empower a woman, you empower a family and empower a nation. As women, we are one half of the world population and our voices are critical to building and making world peace. Women are natural networkers and bring added value to peace building processes. As leaders in our homes and communities and the broader society we must mobilize and strategize to improve the status of women as agents of peace, reconciliation, development, growth and stability in the global community.
I was recently elected as President of a local section (Potomac Valley Section, Silver Spring, MD) of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) , a national women’s organization. NCNW is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune, a child of slave parents, who became a distinguished educator and government consultant. Hers was a visionary call for working together with a “Unity of Purpose and a Unity of Action.” Much like the United Nations, which is a kind of council of sovereign nations coming together to promote development and peace, NCNW is a council of autonomous national organizations coming together to improve the quality of life for women. Mrs. Bethune envisioned NCNW functioning as a clearinghouse, facilitating networking and coalition-building, and advocating the use of collective power on issues affecting women, their families and communities. With a mission to lead, develop and advocate for women of African descent as they support their families and communities, NCNW addresses issues of human welfare and rights through public education, community service and advocacy. NCNW reaches nearly 4 million women through 39 national affiliate organizations and more than 240 sections.
Global Peace Women (GPW) supports the advancement of the Global Peace Foundation’s vision of One Family under God through:
- Engaging women leadership in the global network of GPF owners,
- Addressing specific issues that affect women and girls, and
- Uplifting and creating awareness of the true value, dignity and unique role, characteristics and contribution of women
I look forward to exploring the tremendous opportunity for networking offered by these two organizations with strong mission driven focuses on building moral and innovative women leaders who can impact change on a national and global level.
Strengthening Families and Communities Initiatives (SFCC)
The Strengthening Families and Communities Coalitions in the USA have continued to demonstrate vitality and growth through expansion and the quality of programming that has attracted diverse organizations in the private non-profit, business and public sectors (including local, state and federal government agencies) as active partners in coalition meetings and sponsored coalition events.
Consistent opportunities to network and partner among organizations in the coalitions have resulted in more strategic collaborations and equipping community leaders to become a stronger force and influence in their respective communities to address issues that impact on family well-being. (e.g., SFCC- Atlanta’s partnership with the Fulton County Juvenile Justice-Probation Division; SFCC-DC’s co-sponsorship of Global Peace Women’s Capitol Hill forum and convening stakeholder meetings for federal government officials to discuss program priorities –Fatherhood, Latino community outreach, and Human trafficking; Convener of NY/NJ SFCC’s ACF Region II Office of over 100 faith leaders, government officials and health professionals to end Human Trafficking.
SFCC’s ability to coordinate efforts between local and federal governments and communities across the US demonstrate the resourcefulness of the SFCC’s to engage in activities that have sustained impact to move public policy and agenda. In addition, each of the SFCC’s conducted Professional Development conferences designed to strengthen staff capacity of coalition organizations. The following highlights a few of the SFCC’s recently held Professional Development Conferences.
SFCC – Atlanta Juvenile Justice Codes 201 for community providers and Juvenile Justice Advocacy training for 75 participants;
SFCC- District of Columbia conducted federal grant writing training at Howard University Law School for member organizations;
The SFCC’s have enjoyed significant recognition by government agencies at local, state and federal levels through active participation and support of the SFCC programs through joint partnership and co-sponsorship. School Districts, local juvenile agencies, child development, healthy families organizations, academia and research organizations have expressed interest and appreciation for the leadership and activities sponsored by local SFCC’s.
I thank you for this opportunity to share some of the activities we are engaged in the USA. I look forward to continued conversation how we as women can be leaders in social transformation through family values. Enjoy the conference.