INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE
Friday, 19 October 2001
Six years have passed since the Fourth World Conference on Women and one year since the Beijing +5. The Holy See would like to reiterate its support for what it called "the living heart" of the Beijing Platform for Action: the recognition of the dignity of women, the importance of strategies for development, ending violence against women, access to employment, land and capital, and the provision of basic social services. These objectives bear a close correspondence to the social teaching of the Holy See.
On the eve of the Beijing Conference, Pope John Paul II called on Catholic institutions to renew and strengthen their commitment to the women of the world through reaching out to those most vulnerable and in need. Everyone can see that Catholic schools, hospitals, and humanitarian agencies all over the world have responded seriously to the Pope’s exhortation. The Holy See continues to be a major provider of basic social services to girls and women, especially in developing countries.
The world of the twenty-first century, is a very different one than the world of even six years ago when the Family of Nations gathered to discuss the issues of critical importance to women. Recent United Nations conferences on HIV/AIDS, Racism and the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons point to the changing current of international political discourse. Amidst these different issues, however, one theme dominates: the phenomenon of globalization and its vast implications, both positive and negative.
In recognition of this subject and its particular effects on women, my Delegation would like to offer some comments. The phenomenon of globalization is now a fact of the 21st century and will continue to characterize international economic interaction for years to come. The challenge for the Family of Nations is to foster the moral and cultural framework that will allow globalization to serve the human person and foster authentic human development.
The question we must ask ourselves, is how can women attain the best position to reap the benefits of globalization and avoid its negative effects? My Delegation believes there are several conditions that must be in place to achieve this.
Recognition of the dignity of the human person, especially women and girls, must be the starting point for fostering authentic human development. A form of globalization that ignores the inherent dignity of women and especially the special contribution they make to their family and society will certainly reduce them to an object of solely economic means. Secondly, to facilitate their contribution to the architecture of a better world the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls must be protected so that they will benefit from globalization. Respect for the right to freely enter into marriage and raise a family, to seek employment and just wages and to be protected from abuse and exploitation, is a prerequisite to women’s contribution to economic development.
Lastly, investment in basic social services is the bedrock for women’s well being and economic development. To be actors in the changing economy, women need to be physically and mentally healthy and possess marketable skills. It is imperative then, that the education and health of girls and women be a priority in development programs.
These conditions which I have outlined are found at the heart of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Beijing +5 Outcome Document. The implementation of these objectives is imperative. The Holy See, for its part, will continue its particular service to women and girls so they may be participants in, and beneficiaries of the globalized society of the 21st century.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.