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'Women, creativity and culture'A report from the feminist session at the 6th Jeju Forum on May 29
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승인 2011.05.31  14:28:12
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▲ Photo by Anne Hilty

At the 6th Jeju Forum for Peace & Prosperity in Seogwipo City, one session stood out from the rest.

It wasn't about national security issues, or nuclear disarmament. Nor was it focused on international business and the interdependence of Asian economies.

And yet, in a sense, the sole feminist session was about all of these things, and more.

At the Haevichi Hotel, the “Women, Creativity and Culture: She's Coming” session was delivered on Sunday afternoon to a packed room of approximately 100 attendees, most of them women.

This session, the first of its kind, was also the opening event of a three-day “Goddess Tour” co-organized by Seoul International Women's Film Festival and Feminist Artist Network, a tour which focused on the goddess-related mythology of Jeju's traditional culture.

Gloria Steinem, world-famous feminist leader, was the main speaker for the “Women” session at Jeju Forum.

She spoke on themes of gender equality, expressing her belief that this is a universal human rights value by which men as well as women benefit.

“Each of us is striving to become a whole person,” she declared, “and men have suffered too.” She further outlined the ways in which societies prosper when women are more involved in every dimension.

“For instance, we now know that women can do what men do. But we still need to know that men can do what women do,” she asserted.

“So until we know that men can also raise children and maintain a household, professional women will always be working two jobs. It will be viewed as a price for employing women, and it will always keep women down.”

“And, children will grow up not understanding that men can also be as nurturing and loving as women,” she further expressed, “and that women are as assertive and innovative as men...that we're all human beings.”

Chief among the session discussants was Guo Yan Wen, Secretary General of the Asian Council of America and Deputy Dean of the EXPO Economy Research Academy at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Dr. Guo spoke at length regarding the need for and benefit of having women in the IT sector, relating creativity to innovation.

Other speakers included Kim Hong-hee, former director of Gyeonggi-do Museum, who addressed the need for women's creativity as well as women's involvement in the structure of the art world as museum curators, art historians, and similar roles.

Chung Hyun-kyung, professor of Union Theological Seminary in New York and renowned feminist author, linked women's spirituality to creativity and described its benefit to society.

She spoke of her life philosophy as a “sallim-ist,” the root word of which in Korean essentially means “life-giving.”

“We must all, women and men, take care of life,” Chung said. “We must all be responsible for the nurturing and caring of one another, our societies, and of life itself.”

Two other speakers included Jocelyn Clark, professor at Pai Chai University, and Do Sung-hee, director of Kiwi Stone Institute, each of whom addressed various women's issues.

The session was moderated by Lee Hyae-kyung, Chairwoman of Seoul International Women's Film Festival and President of the Feminist Artist Network. She was also the lead organizer for the Goddess Tour of which this session was the initial event.

According to the organizers, women's creative activities in the cultural sector are “shaping a new Asian culture centered on women's creativity and productivity.”

Dr. Hilty is a cultural health psychologist.

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