Holy See: All of society is harmed when womens' dignity is not respected
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
“Let us not forget that women and men are equal in their inherent dignity and worth and that this, together with their equal and inalienable rights, is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
Monsignor Janusz S.Urbańczyk, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, stressed this affirmation on Monday in his intervention to the 5th Plenary Session of the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference taking place in Poland.
Scourge of violence against women and girls
Addressing the participants at the conference, Monsignor Urbańczyk noted that despite many commitments and measures adopted by participating States, violence against women and girls – whether physical, sexual or psychological - is still a scourge in our societies and it cannot be ignored.
Moreover, he added, situations of conflict lead to higher levels of violence against women and girls, as in Ukraine, and episodes of violence can also happen in the context of ordinary life. Some of these include abuse in the workplace, sexual harassment, pornography, prostitution, forced sterilization, incentives for abortion and selective abortion.
Respecting the dignity of women
“Every single person and the whole of society are harmed when the inherent dignity of a woman or a girl is not respected or protected,” Monsignor Urbańczyk affirmed.
To counter this, he called for legal, judicial and practical measures to be put in play to address violence against women and girls with the aim of remedying such injustices.
He also recalled Pope Francis's words during the homily on 1 January 2020 when the Holy Father spoke for the protection of women. “We can understand our degree of humanity by how we treat a woman’s body,” said the Pope. “How often are women’s bodies sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, of profiteering, of pornography, exploited like a canvas to be used? Yet women’s bodies must be freed from consumerism; they must be respected and honoured.”
Need for a change in attitude
Monsignor Urbańczyk went on to stress that the authentic advancement of women requires “a change in attitude on the part of those who ignore and violate women’s inherent dignity.”
He lamented that this problem, in many circumstances, has its roots in the mostly unexpressed, regrettable and mistaken idea that women are inferior to men and that, therefore, it is normal for man to subject woman to his own will or to have her serve his pleasure.
Here, he warned that there is not much hope of reversing the present trend if “the common and equal dignity of male and female is not acknowledged, affirmed and rightly explained and taught to future generations.”
Monsignor Urbańczyk concluded his intervention by highlighting that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and thus, “the equal dignity and rights of women and men arise from the very origin and nature of the human person.”