By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations (UN) said on Monday that some UN programs seeking to advance gender equality are becoming too ideologically driven and have become a hindrance to woman’s advancement.
Addressing the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio serving as the Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN, said that in recent official documents there have been interpretations of gender that “dissolve every specificity and complementarity between men and women.”
“These theories will not change the nature of things but certainly are already blurring and hindering any serious and timely advancement on the recognition of the inherent dignity and rights of women,” he said.
He also noted the nearly every international conference document or resolution links the achievement of women’s rights to “a notion of sexual and reproductive health and rights which is violent to unborn human life and is detrimental to the integral needs of women and men within society.”
“While at the same time,” he added, “only seldom are women’s political, economic and social rights mentioned as an inescapable clause and commitment.”
This situation is particularly distressing in places where inadequate health systems are resulting in high maternal mortality rates.
“A solution respectful of the dignity of women does not allow us to bypass the right to motherhood, but commits us to promoting motherhood by investing in and improving local health systems and providing essential obstetrical services,” he affirmed.
He went on to list the many problems being experienced by women around the world that need to be addressed, such as violence in the form of female feticide and infanticide. He also pointed out that too many girls and women around the world are victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence.
“Discrimination in health and nutrition occurs throughout the lives of girls and malnutrition affects girls much more than boys,” he said.
Girls continue to account for the majority of children out of school, he said, and three quarters of those infected with HIV/AIDS are women between 15 and 24 years old. In sub-Saharan Africa, three out of four young people with the virus are women.
“Of those who are trafficked across international borders each year, minors account for up to 50 percent and approximately 70 percent are women and girls,” he added.
“Equality between women and men and the empowerment of women will be attained when the differences of the sexes are recognized and highlighted as complementary,” rather than antithetical, he said.
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