By Vatican News staff writer
The sixty-fifth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has been taking place since 15 March and is due to end on Friday 26 March. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and NGOs from all regions of the world have been invited to attend the session, which due to Covid-19 restrictions, has been taking place, mainly virtually.
Representing the Holy See is Dr Francesca Di Giovanni, Undersecretary for the Multilateral Sector of the Section on Relations with States of the Holy See.
Violence against women and girls
Opening her statement, Di Giovanni noted that significant efforts have been made at the local, national, and international levels "to prevent and punish violence against women and girls" in the last twenty-five years, since the Fourth World Conference on Women, which “rendered a great service by casting a spotlight on violence towards women and girls.”
However, she pointed out, "there is more to be done", noting that "in many places, stay-at-home orders have coincided with increased calls to domestic violence helplines". At the same time, women and girls also experience abuse and exploitation through human trafficking, "particularly sex trafficking", she said, in which girls are "assaulted, raped, exploited, and sometimes even forced to undergo abortions".
Helping victims must involve ensuring the safety of women and girls and providing them with psycho-social, medical, financial and legal assistance in order to foster their healing and social reintegration. All this, added Di Giovanni, "without leaving violence unpunished". She noted that there are tens of thousands of Catholic social institutions that have been offering such support, including throughout the pandemic.
Di Giovanni then noted that "tragically", there are practices in many of our societies that abet trafficking and violence against women and girls through their objectification and commodification, such as in pornography. "Far from a harmless habit", she warned, "pornography accustoms men and, increasingly, boys, to view women and girls as objects to be used rather than persons to be respected".
Women’s participation in public life
Speaking about women's participation in public life, Di Giovanni said that "the Holy See affirms the importance and urgency of the promotion of women so that they may realise their full potential and contribute to the common good of society". Many societies, she noted, are "unfortunately still far from reflecting clearly women’s equal dignity". She explained that the inclusion and promotion of women's participation in public life means accepting and honouring every woman in all aspect of her personhood. "We should aim for an equality between women and men that can build a new and fair relationship among them", she said.
Integral human development, women and education
Concluding her statement, the Holy See official spoke about the importance of "ensuring that all girls and women have access to education". It is indispensable, she said. "The better the education they receive, the greater the opportunities open to them". She noted that this, in turn, "benefits future generations, as educated mothers are better able to send their own children to school, breaking the cycle of poverty and exclusion." Finally, she warned: "Integral human development needs the voice and the experiences of women".