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1st Day EU Conference 2018

This yearly event is an anticipated opportunity to network, share, reflect and introduce our friends and guests to the ideals and activities of WFWP, as well as make plans together for future projects and advocacy.

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This time the conference was preceded by a public event in the offices of Albanian Parliament on the afternoon of November 16 , with the title “Women and Nation-building: Dialogue between Legislators and Civil Society”. It was made possible due to the involvement and support of Mrs. Vasilika Hysi, the Vice Chairwoman of the Albanian Parliament, an Ambassador for Peace, who had participated previously in the European UPF conference in Vienna during our Founder’s visit in April, as well as in the Global Summit in August in Korea. The event in the Parliament Offices was attended by roughly thirty WFWP leaders and guests from abroad, These included a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Mrs. Olga Bogomolets, and Mrs. Kholoud El Wattar Kassem, Director of Women Political Leaders Global Forum from Lebanon, seven current or former members of Albanian parliament, and approximately seventy WFWP members and guests from Albania.

Mrs. Hysi, our host, opened the meeting and greeted all participants, making a connection to the International Day of Tolerance. Mrs. Hysi emphasized that it is important for women in politics to transmit peace, avoid hate language and work to eliminate barriers in society. In order to fulfill all political objectives related to women, children, and families, concrete actions are needed, stated Mrs. Hysi.

Then welcoming remarks were offered by Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, President of WFWP Europe. Mrs. Handschin commended Albania on the achievements related to women’s participation in politics, citing facts from 2017 parliamentary elections - 10 % increase in women parliamentarians and 40% candidates for parliament being female. Mrs. Handschin went on to present a new paradigm for nation building, based not only on political decisions, but mainly on the parental role focused on raising a new generation of caring and responsible citizens. In order for young people to respond to higher ideals expressed in Holy Scriptures or secular documents, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, they need to be nourished with the proper understanding of values in their own family. Mothers especially have a crucial role in touching the hearts of children, and bringing out their innate goodness, pointed out Mrs. Handschin. She then shared about the educational curriculum being developed under the guidance of WFWP Founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, which has as its center the idea of “hyojeong”, or the culture of filial piety towards parents, which creates a base for respect and commitment also in other spheres of life. According to Mrs. Handschin, Albania needs to make efforts to preserve its culture of respect for parents and family values.

The conference continued, dividing into sessions – “Women’s Active Participation in Decision Making, Development and Sustainable Peace.” moderated by Mrs. Manjola Vasmatics, Board Member of WFWP Albania, and “Cooperation between the Government and Civil Society for Peace and Development” skillfully and with care, guided by Mrs. Mitty Tohma, President of WFWP UK. In the first session the speakers were Members of Albanian Parliament, Mrs. Eglantina Gjermeni and Mrs. Elona Gjebrea, former Member of Parliament, Mrs. Mimoza Hajdarmataj, and Mrs. Olga Bogomolets, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine.

Mrs. Gjermeni reiterated on the achievements of women’s movement in bringing equality through influencing the legal framework and policies in Albania. She mentioned current numbers – 50% of the Cabinet and 30% of the Parliament are women. However, as Mrs. Gjermeni stated, it is very vital to consider the quality of women’s contribution, not simply the numbers. Mrs. Mimoza Hajdarmataj, in turn, focused on the necessity of women’s education, because as she said “development and empowerment of women contributes to the development and empowerment of the country”.

Mrs. Olga Bogomolets focused on her motivation to enter politics. In her case, she as a medical doctor, decided to run for parliament after witnessing death of innocent young people during recent political upheavals in Ukraine. Mrs. Bogomolets has been focused since then on initiatives to support poor families, improving the health system and increasing the life expectancy in the Ukraine.

The presentations were then followed by lively discussion. One of the points raised was the need to support women parliamentarians, who are often not voted into office by other women. “Women don’t like strong women”, as somebody mentioned. MP and former Minister of Defense, Mrs. Mimi Kodheli, expressed that women need to provide proper education for youth, in order to avoid aggression and war, while Mrs. Marilyn Angelucci, President of WFWP Afghanistan, shared about her project of educating women parliamentarians in Afghanistan.

The second session was opened by Mrs. Kholoud Wattar Kassem’s presentation. Mrs. Kassem, as a Lebanese, shared about her difficult path to being heard and influential as a woman. Despite being raised in a very conservative society, she decided to be involved on a public level, in order to speak out against injustice. “If women are neglected, 50% of the problems are neglected” she said. Another speaker, Mrs. Edlira Cepani, Director of Women’s Network for Equality in Decision Making emphasized women’s strength, which according to her lies in their direct experience of dealing with many life problems, and the ability to cooperate and work together. As she expressed, “unity is the solution”. The last speaker, Mrs. Hatixhe Hoxha, former Member of Parliament of Kosovo, called in her speech for concrete actions towards peace.

The parliament session was concluded with appointments of new Ambassadors for Peace: Mrs. Elona Gjebrea, Mrs. Mimoza Hajdarmataj, and Mrs. Edlira Cepani.

After this very informative and lively discussion, all conference participants headed back to the hotel, enjoying the brightly lit streets of Tirana. In fact, as we learned later, it was the first day that the holiday lights went on.The main conference officially started with an opening dinner at Hotel Tirana International, which was also the venue for the whole weekend. This time was a chance for a more informal mingling among participants, greetings, and introductions. Mrs. Katarzyna Minollari, President of WFWP Albania welcomed all participants to Tirana, wishing them a fruitful conference, and moderating a short and spontaneous entertainment, which featured a trombone player, Mr. Martinas Oliaka from Russia and Miss. Artina, a music student and CARP member from Albania. Guests were also greeted by Mr. Gani Rroshi and his wife Mrs. Marjeta Rroshi, president of FFWPU and Vice President of WFWP Albania respectively. Welcoming remarks came also from Mrs. Lavdie Ruci, Chairwoman of Tirana Peace Council.

Text written by Katarzyna Minollari (WFWP Albania, Pres.), with editing and photo assistance from various European WFWP Members.

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