Angelika Selle, born in Pforzheim, Germany, studied at the University of Freiburg in Catholic Theology, in German and English. In the years following she travelled to Japan, Korea and America. She settled in the U.S. in 1983 with her American husband, Bob Selle. Together they are the parents of 4 wonderful children. She has worked with Government officials, held the position of the editor in chief of two magazines, “Neue Hoffnung” and “Today’s World”, and she taught at a parochial elementary school. Rev. Selle’s true passion and calling is to be a reconciler and peace-maker to promote reconciliation and healing between different races, religions, and cultures. Together with her husband and another family, they founded a reconciliation group in MD. In 2001 she founded the Prayer in Action Ministry and in 2003 the Interfaith Prayer and Fellowship Ministry in Washington DC. On April 8, 2005 she was ordained at the Lively Stone Worship Center under “God’s Vision International Ministries” by Apostle Floyd Nelson. In 2006, Rev. Selle was appointed to be the Pastor of New Hope Family Church in Landover Hills, MD. Earlier this year, on March 21, 2010, Rev. Selle was appointed by the Founder of WFWP, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, to be the President of Women’s Federation for World Peace USA and Vice-President of WFWP International.
It finally happened: A very long-awaited trip to Ukraine.
For the past five years, each year, Mrs.Tatiana Kotseba, the President of WFWP in Ukraine had been inviting me to speak at their annual WFWP anniversary conference; and every single year, I couldn’t go for one reason or another.
At last, this year, the stars were aligned, and I made my way to Kiev, arriving on April 26, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Chernobyl incident. It turned out to be the perfect time to visit Ukraine, as most of the country was in the full bloom of springtime, and was celebrating Orthodox Easter Week and Easter Sunday.
A small delegation of WFWP leaders welcomed me at the Kiev airport with a bouquet of roses, and brought me to our beautiful quarters a bit outside of the city of Kiev--or Kyiv in Ukrainian.
The next day, April 27, WFWP Ukraine held an educational roundtable event in collaboration with City Hall. Thirty-five women leaders and CEO's gathered around a very long conference table at City Hall, to share and discuss the topic of "Women, Peace, and Security." It was the fourth roundtable discussion of its kind, and included international representatives of WFWP from the USA, Japan, the United Kingdom, Belarus, and Austria.
In my 10-minute presentation, which was translated paragraph by paragraph, I highlighted the 1325 UN resolution that states that it is beneficial to have women at the negotiation table in matters of war; since they gave birth to and will lose those who are fighting each other. I also compared the relationship between men and women in the US which is on a more equal footing, more like a team, when compared with the traditional one in Ukraine. Notwithstanding, however, the additional fact that in the US the healthy family unit is falling apart and gender confusion is on the rise.
Other presentations talked about the issue of women still not having a voice in decision-making in Ukraine, and being the ones who always need to carry the results of war, poverty, and with little or no support. One presenter especially “unloaded her heart on this issue,” and I could feel the deep pain that Ukrainian women feel, waiting and hoping for “liberation.”
WFWP President Tatiana then highlighted WFWP’s vision and focus on strengthening the family as the “School of Love and Peace.” She pointed out that the family in Ukraine has also undergone many changes and is no longer the stronghold of society that it used to be.
A lot of the weakening of the family has to do with the ongoing wars and fights for independence that Ukraine has been involved in over the years under Communism. The women in Ukraine have for decades had to fend for themselves and their children, since their men went either to war or were involved in other independence-driven, dangerous activities where they lost their lives. As always the women and mothers have had to deal with their children, without support and living in poverty as a result.
Unfortunately, it is clear that the Ukrainian traditional culture is very much intact, which means that women still don’t have much of a voice; yet I experienced that internally they are very strong and have very deep hearts.
The highlight of the visit was the 9th National Anniversary Conference of WFWP in Ukraine, which took place the following day, on April 28, at one of the largest Universities in Ukraine, the Kiev University of Borys Grinchenka. The conference brought together around 500 women and also men from different parts of the country.
Among them were representatives of the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Defense, city administrators, public organizations, embassies, Universities rectors, school principals and teachers, artists, scientists, and many other dignitaries and women leaders.
Anna Kalmatskaya, WFWP Secretary-General, described the event briefly, as follows:
“Prior to the event a national TV channel interviewed [WFWP] USA President and International Vice-President, Angelika Selle, Ukrainian WFWP President Tatiana Kotseba as well as famous Ukrainian woman artist. In addition, two All-Ukrainian and three local newspapers highlighted the event.
“One hour before the conference, special guests and international representatives partook in a tea reception in a special VIP room, while others enjoyed the music of the military Lyceum orchestra, which was playing outside the building and attracted many onlookers.
“The conference began with a WFWP video report, welcoming words from the Vice-Director of Grinchenka University and also from a vice-chairman of children’s rights department of the Ministry of Social Policy. Mrs. Angelika Selle – WFWP USA president and Mrs. Tina Coombs, member of the European WFWP board, spoke on behalf of WFWP International and WFWP Europe. President of WFWP Ukraine Mrs. Tatiana Kotseba based her speech on the Founder’s words, emphasizing the importance of family, centered on universal values.”
My 20-minute presentation covered the main topic: “What are Universal Values, and why we need them to achieve global peace and harmony.” I highlighted three values, which also reflect the values of our organization and are important for leadership of peace:
- Living for the Sake of Others
When practiced, these values have the potential to create a plateau for real change for the better in both of our nations.
A very strong focus of festivities was the award-giving ceremony which honored and highlighted ordinary women who had accomplished extraordinary things, as well as women leaders who have made great impact in their field of influence.
Among the awardees was the mother of a Ukrainian pilot hero, Nadiya Savchenko, who received the “Woman-Patriot Mother” award; an 81-year-old world legend of gymnastics, Mrs. Albina Deriugina became “Woman Coach Nominee;” and the head of the biggest All-Ukrainian charity foundation on IDP (internally displaced persons) issues received the “Woman Public Figure” award. Seven other wonderful ladies became “Woman-veterans”, “Woman-journalist”, “Woman-teacher”, “Woman-mother of many children”, “Woman-doctor”, and the “Woman-artist” honorees. The conference also included award winners of the children's literature competition entitled: “My mother is the best”, initiated by WFWP Ukraine.
The award ceremonies and speeches were interspersed with lively Ukrainian music, performed by dance group and a group of Kazaks.
In spite of the language barrier (I don’t speak or understand Ukrainian), I felt a natural and strong affinity with the Ukrainian women and mothers, whose deep hearts, souls, and inner strength were exuding from them.
Seeds of love and connection were sown through these moments of sharing, as well as later when leaders of WFWP met together and shared about each other’s vision, goals, and ways of working.
It was a very fruitful cross pollination, and all committed to building on this new-found friendship. Heart to heart connections were established on many levels; even after the events, when our international delegation had the opportunity to go sightseeing and visit historic and beautiful sites that reminded us of the deep spiritual but also painful history of Kiev and Ukraine. On Easter Sunday the city was enveloped not only in beautiful sunshine, but there was an atmosphere of holiness and joy everywhere.
Traditional Easter bread that had been baked the night before and was sanctified by the priest in the early morning hours, was shared everywhere in the homes and in the restaurants for free, as well as colorfully painted and decorated Easter eggs.
We ended our visit with an Easter dinner, enjoying Ukrainian borscht and other tasty dishes. Most of all we all felt we had become closer in heart as friends and distant family, and committed to stay in touch and in good collaboration for our common goals.
After all I thought; the U-nited States and U-kraine, both begin with the letter “U;” and if we put the two together, we have a “W,” a “We.” So, together, WE can do it!
This is my fourth year in a row representing WFWP USA at the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) events in New York City. Each year it is quite an experience when thousands of women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds from around the world, representing their countries, organizations, and causes, descend on New York City and the UN to participate in discussions at CSW events.
As you might know, this year's annual topic is “Women Empowered to Implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).” This title in and of itself gave me a lot of hope for actual progress in solving issues rather than just talking about them. And indeed there is a lot of evidence and hope that this will happen this year.
What I noted immediately at the Opening Session of Consultation Day, as well as at the General Assembly on the following day, was that there was a significantly higher number of young women present—and men (mostly young)! This became more noticeable to me during my lunch break at the UN cafeteria, where there was a gentleman sitting at nearly every other table with a group of women, involved in conversation. The increased number of young men and women was partially attributed to the newly launched Youth UN component, which held its first forum on the 11th and 12th of March.
Overall this year, there seems to be a more upbeat, more hopeful spirit present, which was confirmed and expressed by Susan O’Malley, Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in New York and of the International Federation of Businesses and Professional Women (IFBPW), in her welcoming remarks on Consultation Day. “During these next two weeks,” she said, “we will be focusing on implementing the SDG goals, as well as addressing pressing problems.”
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, highlighted that the focus for this year would be the implementation of the resolutions concerning violence against women and children through a universal approach. “Institutions that are well resourced,” she emphasized, “have the most influence in helping those who need help.”
Later in the morning during the panel discussion focusing on the theme “No One Left Behind: Opportunities and Constraints in Implementing the 2030 Agenda,” Mrs. Ngcuka suggested that to implement these very hopeful goals we “need to start at the back.” She encouraged us to also begin with data collection, to document the work being done. She noted also that the new Youth CSW and the “multi-generational cooperation will be an integral part of the decisions we make.”
H.E. Ambassador Antonio de Agular Patriota, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Brazil and Bureau Chair of the CSW, also spoke. “Unless we place gender equality at the center of the focus of our program,” he said, “we will not be able to erase poverty.” The commission, he also pointed out, “needs to expose shortcomings and build new alliances.” He encouraged everyone to include the private sector and to engage the philanthropic community and all stakeholders.
Mrs. Ngcuka, who was also part of the panel, again emphasized the importance of securing resources. She suggested making a case to donors for funding by highlighting that “investing in women will give us all higher benefits.”
Another panelist, Mrs. Saida Ali, International Policy Consultant, shared some of the very painful stories of sexual slavery she witnessed in her country of Kenya. She pointed out that most people don’t know the meaning of the necklaces some young girls are wearing. She said, “When young women wear the beautiful African pearls, it actually means that they are available for sexual abuse.” Therefore, “let’s not philosophize about why these things happen, but let’s talk about what we can do so it will not happen in the first place.” She called for insisting on and promoting accountability of actions. She ended by saying that she herself attempts to visualize and meditate on what a society of non-discrimination would look like, and encouraged all present to do the same.
Mrs. Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, declared CSW60 2016 to be “the biggest year of hope, endeavor, and achievement.” She said the CSW efforts have come to a very “promising point,” poised to leave the wrong behind and to capitalize on the positive in all discussions. Based on the UN’s very hopeful 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Puri felt that women will be able to accelerate their momentum and create a new model within a generation.
On a personal note, as I was sitting in the audience in the YMCA auditorium (where some of the CSW60 events were held), surrounded by a great variety of women, I could feel the deep-down inner feminine and motherly essence that all women carry, which is the essence of birthing humanity, the force of giving and nurturing life. I felt hopeful because women during these past years have been talking here at the UN about “real situations” and have not been shy to express the pain and suffering that women have been enduring throughout history—suffering that is still not acknowledged to the necessary degree. However, it was also amazing for me to realize that it will have to be the women who take the lead to end that suffering and to provide real and practical solutions for a sustainably peaceful world without violence and hate, using their own creative resources and inner wisdom gained over centuries and millennia. Quite remarkable!
This year’s second Women of Distinction Awardee, Bandana Rana from Nepal, who was introduced and welcomed warmly, echoed many of the points mentioned earlier and added that the importance of “movement building” and the collective energy of all women “will make a difference.” She also said that UN Women needs power and resources and that we need to work on changing the minds of the men “in the house,” because “we need men to join us!”
On the following day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address began with words of encouragement and hope: “I feel truly inspired. You empower me and I am energized by your energy and strength. I thank you very much. You are here to change the world. When I see all of you—from so many different countries, with so much experience and such strong commitment—I know we can achieve full equality for all women, everywhere around the world.”
Concerning men's involvement with and support of women in their plight, he mentioned his own example:
“I was proud to be the first man to sign up for the HeForShe campaign to mobilize men and boys. This built on my network of men leaders fighting for full equality around the world. ... I pay tribute to the thousands of heroines I have met along the way. And I commend the men who join us, because they know women’s rights are human rights that we secure for the benefit of everyone.”
He went on to highlight the many attempts he has made and steps he himself has taken to promote the cause of women, ending with introducing the latest step he has taken to address the prevention of violence against women and girls.
He said: “The new United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism sets out specific proposals to give women more influence in the global response. And the Plan calls for ensuring that efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism never violate any human rights. When we stay true to our principles, we stay on the right side of history and the winning side on this issue. As long as one woman’s human rights are violated, our struggle is not over.”
As I attended other sessions that day, words and phrases like “accountability,” “implementation,” “the how to,” and “collaboration and movement building” were surfacing in nearly all sessions.
It is comforting and hopeful to see the head of the UN supporting the cause of women, and when men do stand up and speak up for women and girls, and for all other issues on the table, together we can make a difference!
In reflecting on and observing these hopeful beginnings of the CSW60, I believe that the real hope is in the increasing number of men who are concerned and are getting involved to alleviate the plight of women!
I would like to end with a quote from Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, our WFWP Co-Founder, who addressed over 1,000 women in 2012 on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of WFWP International in a speech entitled “Women as the Turning Point for Peace.”
She said: “Now women and men should play a major role in world history by serving alongside each other like the wheels of a great engine pulling the construction of a peaceful world forward. Today I invited women to accept an important role and become the turning point in building a new century characterized by a loving peaceful culture.”
Dear Friends and Esteemed Supporters of WFWP,
We trust that you have had wonderful Holidays thus far, as this eventful year 2015 quickly draws to a close. It seems like the earth is spinning faster these days!
2015 definitely was a year of new energy and progress, perfectly reflecting our theme for this year (GROWTH - Uplift, Upgrade, and Collaborate), which has manifested on many levels. This was mostly made possible through our young, new women leaders at our headquarters, administrator Kiyomi Schmidt and newly appointed Vice President Katarina Connery, as well as young women leaders on our national Board and in some of our chapters nationwide.
Congratulations to Mrs. Connery also on becoming a mother during this month of December, having giving birth to a wonderful baby boy, Mathew William Connery! To both father and mother Connery, best of luck and much happiness!
There were many highlights to note regarding activities throughout the year in our local chapters (see the summation by category below), which were all recorded in this year's Logic of Love e-newsletter!
A big THANK YOU to all our chairwomen and co-chairwomen nationwide for their vision, consistency, and labors of love in making an impact in their communities. And a big THANK YOU to all our subscribers and supporters, who through your contributions make it possible for WFWP USA to continue making a difference!
Looking forward into 2016, we would like to share with all of you our new motto and focus:"Compassionate, Sustainable Leadership"!
Given the state our world is in at this moment, we need a different type of leadership, from the inside out, motivated by heart, governed by principles of integrity and character, and inspired by creativity and spirituality.
WFWP will seek to provide education and mentorship in these areas, especially for young women. We will seek funding for it, and hope for and will be humbled by your continued support.
Wishing you a wonderful, reflective, and peaceful end of this year, and a most energetic, hopeful, and adventurous 2016!
The key is to be completely open and ready, to see with new eyes, and to give yourself and others a new chance!
Here's to an awesome 2016!!