* An Interview with Mayor PARK Gwang-Tae of Gwangju, Co-Chair of the 2007 WWPFG Steering Committee
We will Provide Maximum Administrative Support to Help Women Play Their Part 'In an Age of Women's Peace
"The 21st century has always been referred to as 'An Age of Women' in the real sense of the words. Women, therefore, are asked to play their own roles in the spirit of the times. They need to develop leadership and competence on their own, while pursuing harmony through solidarity. I think it is my duty to render the best administrative services to help them. I will do my level best to make the Forum a success in this sense," the mayor said.
The mayor, who served as a third-term member of the National Assembly, stressed that the international gathering would be a venue for 'harmony', noting, "I have been watching both the conservative and progressive women's groups in the city pooling together to prepare for this Forum."
The holding of the Forum in the city bears great significance in the first place, Park said, as it hosted 'The 2005 Asian Women's Peace Forum' and 'The 2006 Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates'. Gwangju has been seeking for its brand as a world-class 'City of Democracy, Human Rights and Peace' through a series of international events since its designation as a sacred site for democratization following the May 18 Democratic Uprising of 1980.
The city has completed an integrated base for services to create a family culture based on gender equality by establishing 'The Center for Sound Homes' in August last year for 500,000 households in the city. It hosted 'The 1080 Family Festival' on May 12 this year, an event to help different generations get a better understanding of each other, in celebration of the Month of the Family. The on-going programs by the city include child-care and helping families with disabled kids by the middle aged and senior citizens. To help victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and sex trade, the city has been operating a council to prevent them since 2004. To help them in a more efficient way, the city organized a meeting of facility heads for the city, Gu (District), facilities and organizations in February this year to protect women and juveniles in crisis.
* An interview with KIM Pill-Sick, Representative of Women of Gwangju, Co-Chairperson of the 2007 WWPFG Steering Committee
Reaffirming the spirit of the May 18 Democratic Uprising, sharing efforts for peace from women's perspectives
Asked about a basic direction and an objective of the Forum, KIM Pill-Sick, Co-Chairperson of the Steering Committee, said, "In the upcoming Forum, we will strengthen solidarity among women, and seek a fresh paradigm for women to become major contributors of social progress in the days to come by shedding new light on the spirit and significance of Gwangju’s democratic movement for democracy, human rights and peace from the viewpoint of women." "By providing a space where social and women activists can share their experiences and philosophies, the Forum aims to make women's efforts and roles for peace contribute to working out pending issues for women," she stressed.
To make the Forum go smoothly, the organizer has been paying extra attention to publicizing the event. What arrested our attention was the event, 'Put your yellow handkerchiefs on the olive trees', held by the Steering Committee at the May 18 Democratic Cemetery in Mangwoldong, during the observation of the May 18 Democratic Uprising last month.
5,180 visitors wrote their own wishes for peace on the yellow handkerchiefs, symbolizing the democratic movement, handed out by the Committee, and hung them on the olive trees in front of the May 18 Memorial.
"The response of the participants was really positive, and similar events will take place throughout the Forum to cherish the spirit of the Gwangju democratic movement," she added.
The co-chair has become part of the Forum in her capacity as a representative of the Women of Gwangju. She served as president of the Gwangju Council of Women's Associations, and is currently the BOD chairperson of Dongshin University and of the Kwangju Broadcasting Company (KBC) Cultural Foundation.