"Gender Equality" Seen to Be Hindering Women

Holy See Decries Ideology That Is Stopping Advancement

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NEW YORK, MARCH 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The concept of "gender equality" is ideologically driven and is delaying the true advancement of women, according to the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in New York, affirmed this today when he addressed the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women regarding a 15-year review of the Beijing conference.

The prelate noted how achieving equality between men and women in fields such as education and political rights is "considered in the context of gender equality."

"Yet," he observed, "the evidence shows that the handling of this concept [...] is proving increasingly ideologically driven, and actually delays the true advancement of women."

The prelate decried the fact that in "recent official documents there are interpretations of gender that dissolve every specificity and complementarity between men and women."

This will not "change the nature of things," he said, but instead is "already blurring and hindering any serious and timely advancement on the recognition of the inherent dignity and rights of women."

"Sexual health"

Archbishop Migliore noted how nearly every international conference document or resolution links the achievement of rights to "a notion of sexual and reproductive health and rights which is violent to unborn human life and is detrimental to the integral needs of women and men within society."

"While at the same time," he added, "only seldom are women’s political, economic and social rights mentioned as an inescapable clause and commitment."

The prelate said this situation is particularly distressing in places with high maternal mortality due to inadequate health systems.

"A solution respectful of the dignity of women does not allow us to bypass the right to motherhood, but commits us to promoting motherhood by investing in and improving local health systems and providing essential obstetrical services," he affirmed.

Truly needy

The prelate made clear that the true advancement of women is a clear priority.

The list of woes suffered primarily by women is long, he illustrated: "Violence in the form of female feticide, infanticide, and abandonment are realities that cannot be brushed aside. Discrimination in health and nutrition occurs throughout the lives of girls and malnutrition affects girls much more than boys. [...]

"Girls continue to account for the majority of children out of school. [...] Three quarters of those infected by HIV/AIDS are girls and women between the ages of 15 and 24. [...] Of those who are trafficked across international borders each year, minors account for up to 50% and approximately 70% are women and girls. [...]

"Around the world girls and women are victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including rape as a weapon of war in various parts of the world, not to mention economic abuse."

Archbishop Migliore noted that 15 years ago in Beijing, women's human rights were affirmed as "an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights."

"This," he said, "is key not only to understanding the inherent dignity of women and girls but also to making this a concrete reality around the world."

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-28578?l=english