International BPW president visits Jeju
International BPW president visits Jeju
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Preparations begin for 2014 International Federation of Business and Professional Women Congress

Freda Miriklis, president of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, visited Jeju last week.

The island was selected in 2008 as the site for the 2014 BPWI Congress, an event which takes place every 3 years and is attended by delegates and members from all over the world.

Joined by Susan Jones, BPWI Asia-Pacific regional coordinator, this was Miriklis' first visit to the island. Miriklis and Jones were also accompanied by BPW-Korea Federation president Park Hui-Cha, and former Asia-Pacific regional coordinator Park Young Hae.

“For the 2014 Congress, business and professional women from 98 countries will be coming to Jeju and we know that these leaders will be suitably impressed with the nature and culture of [the island],” Miriklis said. “We trust that they will bring this message back to their countries, and we invite Korean corporations to partner with us in this event and link their names to that of BPW-International with its powerful global brand.”

Prior to her Jeju visit, Miriklis spoke at the Global CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] Conference in Seoul, sponsored by UN Global Compact. There she met many of Korea's business leaders as well as Lee Bae Yong, chairwoman for the Presidential Council on Nation Branding, with whom she spoke of the impact that the BPWI 2014 Congress will have on Korea's brand. Miriklis is confident that it will benefit the branding of Jeju Island as well.

UN Global Compact, in partnership with UN Women, designed the 7 Women's Empowerment Principles [WEP] in 2010, adopted by BPWI.

The local BPW club, under the guidance of President Im Aeduk, organized a series of events during Miriklis' site visit, including a press conference, meetings with Jeju Governor Woo Keun Min as well as Jeju Tourism Organization and Convention Bureau president Yang Young-Keun, and a seminar on the Women's Empowerment Principles for which Miriklis was the keynote speaker. She inspected the International Convention Center and met with the members of BPW-Jeju as well.

In her meeting with Governor Woo, Miriklis discussed the strength of Jeju women and uncanny suitability of Jeju for the BPWI Congress. She invited both the governor and his wife, Park Seung-Ryun, to speak at the event, and expressed her commitment to make this congress one of mutual benefit to both the island and BPWI.

Miriklis was notably impressed by the convention facilities and expressed her gratitude in advance to bureau president Yang for his support of the upcoming congress.

In her press conference, Miriklis compared BPWI's focus on women's empowerment to Jeju Island's famed “women's culture,” citing Korea's first female entrepreneur and Jeju native Kim Man Deok (1739-1812), Jeju's goddess mythology including creator goddess Seolmundae Halmang, the diving women and the “Strong Jeju Woman” prototype. She expressed conviction that this island provides an ideal setting for the 2014 BPWI event.

“As the elements for this congress coalesce and we continue to discover aspects of Jeju that align with the principles of BPW,” Miriklis stated, “we believe that we are building the foundation to create an historical event and one of the most successful congresses in the history of BPW International.”

Noting the island's natural beauty, the visiting BPWI president also congratulated Jeju for its recent acknowledgment as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, and for its “triple crown” UNESCO natural science status. BPWI promoted Jeju's N7W candidacy on its own website, as the site of the organization's upcoming congress.

The International Federation of Business and Professional Women was founded in 1930 and is one of fewer than 300 NGOs with “General Consultative Status” in the United Nations, the highest UN ranking. BPWI's involvement with the UN began in the 1930s with the League of Nations, and BPWI continues its active involvement with both the UN and the EU to this day.

<Anne Hilty eastwest psyche@gmail.comJeju Weekly All rights reserved>

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