Rep. Gina de Venecia’s speech at the GLOBAL PEACE CONVENTION

November 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

November 17, 2010; Nairobi, Kenya

Theme: Building a world lasting peace: One family under God

MY NAME IS GINA DE VENECIA and I’m a Filipina.

Apart from my duties as Representative in the Philippine Congress, like most of you, I do social work. The charitable Foundation I founded is composed of mothers orphaned by their child.

THREE WEEKS from now, my family will commemorate the death anniversary of my dearest daughter, KC. She was only 16 when she left us —– a sprightly teenager, full of life and optimism. But on that fateful December night, my youngest child died in a fire that also gutted our home.

To every parent there is no greater misfortune than losing your own child.

Fortified by my love for my daughter, I chose to transform my sorrow into a platform of hope by forming a Foundation that helps other mothers drowning in grief live through their pain and get on with their lives while keeping the memory of their children close to their hearts.

IN THIS LIFE, I have come to realize that in reaching out to others, we have to step out of our comfort zones, and turn life’s challenges into opportunities to make a difference.

Four years ago, we opened a national healing center— the first of its kind in my country — that gives free counseling to orphaned parents.

This therapeutic center is among my four nationwide projects that directly help the most aggrieved sectors of Philippine society.

Before I became a Congresswoman, I also led a Foundation composed of the spouses of Representatives in the Philippine Congress.

It was both, a blessing and a privilege because it gave me the chance to make a change into the lives of my oppressed countrymen.

We built The Haven for Women, a 16-building rehabilitation complex for women, who had been raped and victimized by domestic violence, incest, forced prostitution, and illegal recruitment. It has 15 regional ‘havens’ all over our archipelago to reach out to the abused women in the countryside, the first of their kind in Southeast Asia, which then U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton acknowledged when she was in Manila.

In these centers, we restore their confidence, teach them livelihood skills and give them hope, until they gain moral strength to rejoin society, and live once more with dignity.

My other project was The Haven for Children with four regional centers that shelter streetchildren in the streets of Metro Manila who have become drug dependent, and are unfortunately, starting lives of crime before they reach their teens.

We lift them from a life of desperation and hopelessness and nurture them in a home, full of compassion and a promise of better life.

Last April, my fourth project was formally opened. It is the largest welfare institution in our country, a 20-building facility called The Haven for the Elderly that serves as a sanctuary for senior citizens, abandoned by their families.

MATRIARCHAL TENDENCIES run deep in Filipino society. The father is the recognized leader while the mother serves as the “heart” of the family.

Recognizing the vital role of women in ensuring the integrity of the family as breeding ground of individual’s values and future direction, the Philippine Congress has enacted a comprehensive human rights law called the Magna Carta for Women that seeks to eliminate discrimination by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Filipino women.

It also ensures that 5 percent of annual budgets of government agencies is automatically appropriated for women empowerment which is perhaps unique in the world, although only partially implemented for lack of funds.

The affirmative impact of this law was reflected in the 2006-2007 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor that stated the Philippines as the only country where women are found to be more active in starting business than men, with 49 percent of all women now working, topping gender equality among managers, professional and technical workers.

In addition, we also passed legislations on Anti-Violence Against Women and the Anti-Trafficking Persons Act recognizing the fact that women are the No. 1 victims of human trafficking.

TO OUR CONFERENCE-THEME of “Building a world lasting peace: One family under God,” I can relate only in terms of the Filipino experience.

Over these past several years, 11 percent of our total population have become scattered in more than 120 countries as overseas workers.

And foreign peoples endlessly wonder how we could remain so composed – alone and away from home for months on end.

The reason is very simple: No Filipino is ever really alone.

Faith is exceptionally strong among our people. Our optimism, even at the darkest hour, cannot be crushed by wars or even market forces – because it comes from our reliance on the personal presence of God in our lives.

This conviction, I believe, rings true all over the world. Your former Government Minister, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize, once said: “All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life.”

Faith is the strong foundation of the enduring peace that Dr. Hyun Jin Moon and we, who are here, hope to build.

At the global level, peace can be achieved only on an understanding between the great civilizations – which was started by the Inter-Faith Dialogues that the Philippines, Iran, and 33 other states had proposed to the U.N. General Assembly in 2006 and even before. Today more than 70 nations are co-architects in these global, regional and interfaith dialogues that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the father and his equally distinguished son, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon are now bringing to almost all nations of the world.

And, at the level of the human heart, peace can be built only as father and son intend — by uniting all of humankind in a global community bound in true love–beyond nationality and religion.

Dr. Hyun Jin Moon’s and the Global Peace Federation’s first principle is simple and uncomplicated. We all belong to “one human family under God.” Whether we are brown, black, yellow or white of skin, we are all descended from Abraham, sons and daughters of one human family, created in the likeness of our living God.

So, if we are one family, how can we hate or despise or kill our brother, our sister or parent? Even if they are Americans, Europeans, Asians or Africans, they are our brothers or sisters just the same, with the same blood pouring from our hearts and running in our veins.

We the women of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas must be vigilant in uplifting and guaranteeing women’s rights, written in every constitution of the world, that men and women are equal, that we are co-builders of our nations, and that like men, we must struggle for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),to advance democracy and human rights, to promote gender equality and women empowerment, to fight corruption and poverty and the terrible effects of climate change and environmental degradation, and in the challenge of our time, as 190 presidents and prime ministers have committed in the year 2000, to reduce poverty by 50% by 2015, which is only 5 years from now.

Brothers and sisters in our “one human family”;

May the organizers of this “Global Summit on Peace” and all of us raise “a harvest of righteousness!”

It has been said that with the shifting of political and economic power, from the West to the East, the 21st Century now belongs to the “Asian Century.” May we also say, perhaps rightfully so, that it shall now be the “Women’s Century.”

Entry filed under: News.

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