Vatican calls for increased involvement of women in peace-building

26 Oct, 2016 | News

The Vatican on Tuesday advocated for an increased involvement of women in making, maintaining and building peace. The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, was speaking at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security in New York.

Archbishop Auza went said, “The  Holy  See  has  long  advocated  for  an  increased  involvement  of  women  in  making, maintaining  and  building  peace.  Thus  it  appreciates  the  initiatives  promoted  by  the Security Council and Governments to raise awareness and arrive at a fuller recognition of the vital role of women in preventing the outbreak of war through mediation and preventive diplomacy,  in  reconciling,  rehabilitating  and  rebuilding  societies  in  post-war  situations, and in avoiding relapses into armed conflicts. Women can and should play much greater roles  in  all  of  these  processes.  Their  special  capacities  to  bring  order  out  of  chaos, community out of division, and peace out of conflict and their special gifts in educating people to be more receptive and sensitive to the needs of others is essential in order to spare our world from further scourges of war and help heal the wounds of previous and present violent conflicts.

“To harness the special capacities of women in peace and security, however, an international effort should be made to enable them to succeed, something that will be difficult to achieve if women still represent a disproportionate number of the world’s disadvantaged. The lack of  access  for  women  and  girls  to  education,  in  particular,  quality  education,  must  be addressed.”

Archbishop Auza went on to highlight comments by Pope Francis in his 25 September 2015 Address to the General Assembly, regarding girls and women not being given full access to education; and that most of the time, this results in condemning them to a second-class role within society  and in giving them no possibility of being heard.  Education is the great enabler for women to be able to contribute fully to the promotion and consolidation of peace and harmony not only in the family, but also in local communities, and the entire world.”

The archbishop said that the Catholic Church has long placed great emphasis on the absolute necessity of giving young women and girls access to education. “Today, young women and girls constitute the majority in many of the more than 100,000 schools of the Catholic Church worldwide, from kindergarten through university, in particular, in regions where women and girls still suffer discrimination. They learn the skills to become well-trained educators and professionals, that may greatly contribute to a secure and safe society. The priority of ensuring a quality education for girls and women is also essential if we hope that they will transmit to boys and men the necessary values to desist from violence and conflict, for the role and influence of the mother are vital in the education of  children and youth in the values of peace and mutual respect, of reconciliation and healing. The peacemaking role of the mother in the family is of the essence not merely fora peaceful and secure home but also for a peaceful, inclusive and safe society.

“Setting up women to succeed in using their talents for making, maintaining and building peace also requires combating poverty and ensure access to other fundamental resources.

“In  both urban and rural areas, it is far more common for women to lack access to basic services, including health-care and social protections. In vast areas of the world, the lack of consistent and nutritious food, clean water and sanitation services, as well as the lack of employment  opportunities  and  decent  pay,  continue  to  undermine  women’s  abilities  to play their role in the life of their own families and society as a whole.”

Archbishop Auza said, “Helping women to bring healing to the world by addressing the causes and consequences of  war  and  violence  also  means  protecting  them  in  this  vital  mission.  The  close  to  fifty conflicts raging in different parts of the world today call on us to concentrate our efforts on the  plight  of  women  and  girls  in  violent  situations.  Women  who  have  fallen  victims  to violence must be helped to overcome the stigma and the shame to which they are subjected to in certain societies, and to seek justice. It is so much more difficult for women to sustain the family and care for family members maimed by violence if their own wounds are not being  treated  and  the  injustices  they  have  suffered  not  being  remedied.  With  so  much money available for weapons, can’t the world spare resources to compensate for the loss of life and limb, of the families and homes of these innocent victims, to help them overcome the ravages of conflict and enable them to become peacemakers?”

In conclusion, Archbishop Auza said, “Women  suffer  disproportionately  from  conflicts  and  wars  that  they  did  not  cause creates the false impression that women are only victims and not also peacemakers. It is high time – indeed, high time is long past – that this flawed image be laid to rest. And one sure way of achieving that is to harness to the full the active role of women in all phases of conflict prevention, mediation, conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding. Without the inputs and specific skills of women, the most comprehensive understanding possible of the causes of conflicts and the most effective solutions to end them and build peace may never be fully attained.”




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