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D. Remengesau: Address to World Summit 2013

Today in many parts of the world we see women’s roles changing, and although we are still far from where we want to be, more women are educated, have economic opportunities, and have gained better living conditions and rights. As we make this very necessary progress, though, I sometimes fear we are forgetting some of the most basic feminine strengths and capacities, losing sight of the importance of the family, and too often ignoring God’s loving hope for us. I want to talk about getting back to the basics.

As an example, in some modern hospitals a newborn is taken away from the mother soon after birth and put on a "warming bed” - yes, to keep the infant warm. A recent study regarding infant mortality rates in Africa found that newborns who were immediately held by their mother, skin to skin, quickly reached a healthy body temperature and had a significantly higher survival rate compared to infants who were separated from their mother right after birth. Now ladies, I know we did not need research to tell us to hold our babies close, right? That comes naturally.

What about recent social trends and opinions that men and women are basically the same? It is important to recognize the large impact of socialization, but is it wise to ignore the God-given abilities of women and the critical role that mothers play?

Take breastfeeding for an example. Breastfeeding is seen as less than glamorous in some places and is therefore declining, despite studies that repeatedly show that a newborn receives important antibodies from the mother’s milk which help prevent illness and infection. Some studies also show that breastfed babies may have a higher IQ. Another wonderful advantage of breastfeeding is the flood of the natural opiate, oxytocin, which intensifies the bonding experience between the mother and her baby. Child psychologists say that this first love relationship of an infant is the foundation for trust and the ability to relate and love for the rest of one's life. I am not saying that anyone who does not breast feed has ruined their child, not at all; we all know that parenting is a long process, but science is telling us that when mothers can breastfeed, the advantages are great, both for the child and the mother.

Of course, fathers are very much needed too, because mothers who have their husband’s emotional and physical support are far more able to give consistent and tender care upon which babies thrive. Fathers also bond with their babies and are more likely to maintain close relationships in later years when they form this attachment with their babies early on. Through all the stages of children’s development, as fathers and mothers parent differently, and children benefit from both masculine and feminine aspects of love and guidance.

The world is witnessing the breakdown of the family. In this regard, yes, there are some necessary changes such as ending abusive marriages. But research consistently reports that the well-being of children plummets with the increase of divorce and single-parenting, that more women and children find themselves in poverty, and that the emotional and physical health of children and adults decline with family breakdown. In fact, more studies are showing that the decline in marriage even results in a decline of the entire national economy.

Despite the best intentions, no one has received or given perfect parenting; nor is there any conflict-free marriage; therefore, we should support divorced or single parents, because theirs is not a situation they wished for. But at the same time, we must speak out about what is best for all children. Clearly, what most benefits children, adults, and society is a family based on the committed love of both the father and mother. Decades of research demonstrate that a loving, committed husband and wife have a greater ability to build a stable, nurturing environment where children can grow and thrive, knowing the love of both father and mother. We need to promote healthy marriages, emphasize timeless virtues that all religions hold dear, and provide character and relationship education. Character education will help our countries to have stable families and thriving marriages as their foundation.

As Mother Moon herself has said, “History is calling for reconciliation, compassion, love, service, and sacrifice. Today’s problems cannot be solved by the logic of power… Our present problems can only be solved by the logic of love.”

Indeed, let us give our deepest support by rallying our women's groups to network together with the Global Women Peace Network.

For more information about World Summit 2013, click here.