By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk, has called for the empowerment of women in every area of life and work, at the same time encouraging the OSCE’s Economic and Environmental Forum to consider this important issue in its 2021 cycle.
Speaking during the first Preparatory Meeting of the 29th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum (EEF), held online on Monday, Monsignor Urbańczyk stressed that “the desire to protect and to promote the real equality of every human person and the acknowledgment of the complementarity of women and men remain important priorities of the Holy See.”
Valuing women fosters peace, social security
Monsignor Urbańczyk lamented that the persistence of the many forms of discrimination offensive to the dignity and vocation of women in the area of work is due to a long series of conditioning that penalizes them. He noted that many women have seen “their prerogatives misrepresented” and they have been “relegated to the margins of society and reduced to servitude.”
Reiterating Pope Saint John Paul II’s words in his 1995 “Letter to Women,” Monsignor Urbańczyk highlighted the urgent need to achieve real equality in all areas – equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses as regards family rights and the recognition of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic state.
He further emphasized that the increased economic and political empowerment and the promotion of women's participation in public life will “surely contribute to increased peace and security within both society at large and, in many cases, within the fundamental cell of society, which is the family unit.”
Monsignor Urbańczyk went on to underline the harmful effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on women’s participation in the labor market.
He noted that “women are often the first to lose their jobs, especially when working in low paid employment or in the informal sector” where they are often the majority and where, in many cases, financial protection and benefits are lacking. Furthermore, “the burden of homeschooling has increased pressure on women, regardless whether they are in paid work or not,” he added.
Complementarity between men and women
In consideration of these circumstances surrounding women, Monsignor Urbańczyk calls for the “complementary collaboration of men and women,” adding that the empowerment of women in every area of life and work “will not only strengthen women, but will strengthen and empower security, stability and sustainable development."