INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 59th SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON STATUS OF WOMEN
[NEW YORK, 9-20 MARCH 2015]
H.E. ARCHBISHOP BERNARDITO AUZA,
OBSERVER OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Friday, 13 March 2015
My delegation is pleased that the Commission has chosen to reflect upon the
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, with a view also to advancing
women’s empowerment and equality in a post-2015 development agenda.
There has been considerable progress for the cause of women in many countries,
especially in the areas of education, political representation, and economic
participation. Women are also increasingly leading important public and private
efforts to remedy discrimination, alleviate poverty, and address myriad other
challenges facing women today.
In spite of the admirable efforts and significant advances, however, still
too many women continue to face discrimination and many forms of violence just
for being women. Thus all actors must continue to devote their utmost efforts to
remedying these violations.
The goal of eradicating poverty, in particular extreme poverty, is at the
heart of the Holy See’s concerns. The Catholic Church has nearly unparalleled
experience of the needs of the poor through its bimillennial experience and
through hundreds of thousands of programs and institutions serving poor women
and men the world over. Pope Francis never tires of urging world leaders and all
of us to prioritize the plight of the poor and to use wealth to serve humanity
and not vice versa.
The promotion of inclusive and equitable economies has a profound impact in
advancing the status of women. Indeed, women are experiencing unique economic
distress linked to unfair employment policies, unequal pay for equal work, the
denial of access to credit and property, victimization in situations of
conflicts and migration. Notwithstanding the fact that women constitute the
majority of the poor and are affected by the burden of poverty in very specific
ways, they are nevertheless courageously at the forefront in the fight to
eradicate extreme poverty. From this perspective, the fight for the advancement
of women must also mean assuring them equal access to resources, capital and
Taking into account these disadvantages that many women are still subjected
to, solutions to poverty should be formulated with courageous objectives and
implemented with sufficient means, so that they can have a real impact in the
advancement of women.
Studies have demonstrated that fragile family structures and the decline of
marriage among the poor are very closely linked to poverty among women. Single
mothers are left alone to raise children. Many mothers in situations of distress
fail to send their children to school, thus entangling them in the vicious
circle of poverty and marginalization. While Governments and society do not
create families, they have crucial roles to play in supporting healthy families
and fostering parenting. Numerous reports by the Secretary-General have
highlighted the centrality of the family for poverty eradication and sustainable
The Holy See takes note of the report by the UN Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights on problems and attacks girls continue to suffer
in accessing education. My delegation is convinced that the fight for equal
access to education for girls, especially quality education, is an indispensable
component in the fight for the advancement of women.
On Sunday March 8, Pope Francis conveyed his greetings to all the women across
the globe, stressing that "a world where women are marginalized is a sterile
world.… Not only do women carry life, but they transmit to us the capacity to
see otherwise," namely, the ability to "understand the world with different eyes."
Women’s contributions to a better world include that generosity to serve
gratuitously, and to welcome rather than to exclude.
My delegation reiterates the readiness of Pope Francis to work with all those
who are seeking each day to build a world that concretely treats women as equals,
in the diversity of gifts and strengths, toward the greater common good of all.
Thank you, Madame Chair.