By Philippa Hitchen
Women’s voices must be integrated into all aspects of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict operations. That was the message of Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York on Monday during a Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security.
Addressing the discussion that focused on how to eradicate sexual violence in conflict, Archbishop Auza noted that at international level a strong framework has been developed to facilitate women’s increased role in peace and security.
Step up prosecution efforts
But he stressed that far too often, women continue to suffer from sexual violence, both in wars and in post-conflict situations. He stressed that survivors must be supported and governments must step up efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes.
Speaking of three areas of action, the Vatican delegate said greater resources must be dedicated to conflict prevention, ensuring that women are able to participate fully in this process.
Prevent sexual violence
Secondly, he said that the prevention of sexual violence and protection of women’s rights must be an integral part of all peacekeeping missions and operations.
Thirdly, the Archbishop called for stepped up efforts to prevent violence against women in post-conflict situations which often remain chaotic, lawless and dangerous. He stressed that the international community should support post-conflict countries to promote education, as well as social and economic development.
Promote education for women
Archbishop Auza noted that the Catholic Church has a long history of providing women and girls with access to quality education. He said women continue to make up the majority of students in Catholic-run institutions, such as Bethlehem University, where almost 80 percent of students are young Palestinian women.
Without the input and skills of women, the Archbishop concluded, neither a comprehensive understanding of the causes of conflicts, nor effective solutions to end them, will ever be achieved.