Julia Moon has been serving as Director General of Universal Ballet since 1996 and is Vice Chairwoman of the Sun Hak Educational Foundation, responsible for the administration of Sun Hwa Arts Middle and High Schools and five other schools in Seoul, as well as Co-Artistic Director of the Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington, DC, and of Universal Ballet Academy in Seoul.
In 2010, she was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit Hwakwan by the Korean government, in 2012 ISPA / International Society for the Performing Arts’ International Citation of Merit, in 2017 Sejong Culture Award by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and in 2018 Seoul City Culture Award. She was appointed as a president of Women’s Federation for World Peace International in 2019.
Welcome everyone to the IAFLP session of this virtual international leader’s conference. It is a great honor and pleasure to be here with all of you today, members of the prestigious panel including current and former first ladies, prominent women leaders as well as many friends and colleagues from the European, Middle East, and African regions. Women's Federation for World Peace International and I are truly honored to be working together with Universal Peace Federation to develop the International Association of First Ladies for Peace.
The founders of UPF & WFWP, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who many affectionately call Father and Mother Moon, worked together for 50 years with the single-minded purpose of building a world of lasting peace. This year of 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Father Moon as well as the 8th anniversary of his passing. Though it was a deeply sad day in 2012 when he passed away, it was also a time of personal commitment for Mother Moon. Since his passing, Mother Moon has unflinchingly shouldered the burden of bringing to fruition all the seeds that were planted with her husband as they established organizations in every field of human endeavor.
As part of the International Summit Council for Peace, this IAFLP session builds on the successes of the event held in Palau, as well as the world level inauguration in South Korea earlier this year. This initiative led by first ladies, civil society, and the private sector proposes that women leaders from all national, racial, and religious backgrounds, and all sectors of society unite in solidarity to respond to today's challenges for the sake of providing a life of dignity for all people and a world of enduring peace.
We are now experiencing and living in a time of global crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus is teaching us that we are not separate from each other. Never before has it been more evident and clear that interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values, as articulated in the founding vision of Universal Peace Federation, are no longer a choice, but the only way forward if we want to overcome this pandemic and the many threats that we as a human race face today.
Recently, the horrific explosion in Lebanon due to negligence caused untold damage to people, their homes, and livelihoods. Feeling the tragedy as if it is their own, concerned people have come together, especially many women's organizations in Europe and beyond, to bring aid and comfort. In Belarus, due to political unrest and the call for fair elections, women have taken to the streets courageously and peacefully protesting with such events as the chain of repentance, asking governments to forgive and forget.
Sadly, in Africa, numerous nations and communities are still affected by extreme conflicts, unresolved tensions, and gender violence. Especially, in this time of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, new waves of concern have been triggered as many cases of mental illness and suicide have been reported. Many other dramatic and critical needs in society that are often not so visible relating to youth, protection of the family, safe cities, balance, and good governance, also need the same sense of urgency and solidarity. While most governments are led by men, the place where women can exert their influence is in the education of young men and women, and in influencing their husbands to be more righteous and loving.
IAFLP was created as a network to harness good minds and actions, identifying needs, and sharing solutions among those dedicated to peace. As a daughter-in-law of Mother Moon, I can truly testify to her inspiring leadership as a woman, soft yet strong. As a leader she does not compete with men or try to stand out, but lives with selfless love, service, and sacrifice. The past few years, she has traveled the world, bringing together leaders of nations with the message that we as a human race must address the root cause of the problems of the world, and understand that these problems cannot be solved by human effort alone.
This time of pandemic and quarantine provides us with a silver lining, the opportunity to reevaluate our ways of relating, challenge old habits, and focus on what is truly essential in life. As women of influence, let us follow Mother Moon's leadership. Let us each find our internal compass, our true North, our vertical connection to God, and by doing so, let's heal our hearts and the hearts of our others, celebrate our strength, and let us work together with our brothers, husbands, and sons to build a better world. I know we will gain greater insight from one another today and share forward-looking and hopeful ideas and projects for the sake of a better future. I would like to close with one final quote from Mother Moon's recently published memoir: “Upon maternal love and affection, the world of the future can be a world of reconciliation and peace. The time has come for the power of women to save the world.”
Thank you very much.