By Robin Gomes
The Holy See has reiterated the importance of the promotion of women at all stages of their lives, so that they may realize their full potential and truly contribute to the common good of society.
While significant progress has been made in increasing the participation of women in social, political, economic and cultural life, and in ending violence against women and girls, much remains to be achieved, said Monsignor Fredrik Hansen, the First Secretary of the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. Speaking on behalf of the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the UN, Archbishop Bernadito Auza, this week, he addressed a committee meeting of the General Assembly on the advancement of women.
He expressed deep concern over the violence and discrimination that migrant women face today. They “endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights.”
Female migrant workers, especially those with irregular migration status, he said, are not only at risk of labour exploitation but also face broader social exclusion. These women deserve to be welcomed, protected and integrated within host communities with their dignity recognized before the law, including through access to the justice system.
Vulnerability of irregular migrants
Msgr. Hansen particularly drew attention to the violence and discrimination that women migrant workers face, focussing on human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the context of international migration. He noted that migrant women and girls, especially those with irregular migration status, face increased risk of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour.
The Holy See regarded as abominable cases of trafficked newborns as “abominable” and denounced an alarming number of cases involving women forced to serve as surrogate mothers and to watch their children be bought, sold and trafficked as merchandise to the highest bidder.
In the face of this situation, Msgr. Hansen said that condemnation must be accompanied by effective legislation and enforcement to prevent trafficking in persons and limit impunity as much as possible. He lamented that concrete measures and effective sanctions are often limited.
Commitment to life
Msgr. Hansen reiterated the Holy See’s commitment to serving life, recalling the message of Pope Saint John Paul II to the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women in 1995. “There will never be justice, including equality, development and peace, for women or for men, unless there is an unfailing determination to respect, protect, love and serve life – every human life, at every stage and in every situation.”