Vatican Congress Focuses on Women and Human Rights

Calls for a New Feminism in Favor of Life

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is promoting an international conference calling women to give witness to a love for life, especially in the area of human rights.



This congress, the first of its kind, will be held Friday and Saturday in the Vatican and will focus on "Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights."
 
Along with the council, which will host the conference, the initiative is being promoted by the World Women's Alliance for Life and Family and the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations.
 
In a note to ZENIT, the organizers recalled Pope John Paul II's words in the encyclical "Evangelium Vitae": "In the cultural change in favor of life women occupy a singular and perhaps determinant place of thought and action.

"They must be the promoters of a new feminism that, without falling into the temptation of copying macho models, is able to recognize and express the true feminine genius in all the manifestations of civil coexistence, working to overcome all forms of discrimination, violence and exploitation."
 
Feminine genius

The conference will be the first meeting of the World Women's Alliance for Life and Family, an international network of women with headquarters in Rome, created five years ago by the current president, Olimpia Tarzia.
 
The objective of this network of women "allied for life" from 50 countries worldwide is the promotion of the "feminine genius" in every realm of social organization.
 
The meeting will also be an occasion to affirm the work of Catholic feminine organizations brought together in the world union, which will celebrate its first centenary next year, and whose current president is Karen Hurley.
 
Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the pontifical council, said that "never so much as now the hour has come for women to respond fully to their vocation to witness love for life in every realm of society and in all parts of the world."
 
"At a time of profound transformations, women, illumined by the evangelical spirit, can do much to help humanity," he added.
 
Tarzia noted that the present period of crisis "is the time for a new feminism."
 
She continued, "It is the time of a genuine cultural revolution, to fully appreciate the specifically 'feminine' ways of thought and action in every realm of civil life, for the good of the collectivity and in favor of life, peace, economic development in the respect and defense of human rights."

Conference topics
 
More than 60 experts and scientists from all over the world are planning to take part in the conference.
 
On Friday, following the opening addresses by Cardinal Martino and the presidents of the other hosting organizations, there will be a debate on the topic: "Life, Family and Development in the Perspective of the Church." It will be introduced with a report by Lithuanian sociologist and theologian Egle Laumenskaite.
 
In the afternoon, the following topics will be discussed: "Woman, Family and Maternity: Resources and Conflicts in Contemporary Society" and "Woman, Education and Culture: The Educational Emergency Given the Cultural Challenges in Civil Rights," given respectively by Spanish professor Maria Lacalle and Ivory Coast lawyer Anne Kone.
 
Saturday's conference topics include: "Woman, Poverty and Marginalization: Feminine Effort in Favor of the Weakest" and "Woman and the Present Challenges of Bioethics: The Perspective of the Social Doctrine of the Church."