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Women in front of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the wartorn Central African Republic Women in front of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the wartorn Central African Republic  (AFP or licensors)

Archb. Auza: Women's role in peacemaking and conflict prevention

The Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations says women must be integrated into all peacekeeping work in order to prevent sexual violence in conflicts

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.

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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.

17 April 2018, 13:34