Holy See to UN: Gender Equality Isn't Sameness

Stresses Women’s Gift of Domesticity

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NEW YORK, JULY 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is emphasizing the need to promote equality of men and women, while clarifying that this is not to say that both genders should be the same.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, made this appeal Thursday before the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council Substantive Session for 2010.

The meeting focused on the implementation of the internationally agreed upon goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and empowerment of women.

The prelate affirmed that women «are dynamic agents of development in the family, society and the world,» and thus he called for their advancement.

«The empowerment of women presupposes universal human dignity and, thus, the dignity of each and every individual,» he said.

The archbishop continued, «The notion denotes complementarity between man and woman, which means equality in diversity: where equality and diversity are based on biological data, expressed traditionally by male and female sexuality, and on the primacy of the person.»

«It concerns also roles to be held and functions to be performed in society,» he affirmed. «In that regard, equality is not sameness, and difference is not inequality.»

Specific talents

«Empowerment of women for development means also recognition of the gifts and talents of every woman and is affirmed through the provision of better health care, education and equal opportunities,» Archbishop Tomasi stated.

He added that «empowering women and respecting their dignity mean also honoring their capacity to serve and devote themselves to society and to the family through motherhood, which entails a self-giving love and care-giving.»

«Altruism, dedication and service to others are healthy and contribute to personal dignity,» the prelate observed.

He noted, «If domesticity can be considered a particular gift of mothers in cultivating a genuine intrapersonal relationship in the family and society, then family-friendly working arrangements, shared family-care leave and redistribution of the burden of unpaid work will be given the attention they rightly deserve.»

Addressing the need for health care, the archbishop pointed out that «the real advancement of women is not achieved by concentrating on a particular health issue to the neglect of others but by promoting their overall health which necessarily includes giving more attention to addressing women-specific diseases.»

He also underlined «women’s economic empowerment,» which «is essential for the economic development of the family and of society.»

Lastly, the delegate expressed particular support for «initiatives in favor of the rights in particular of women migrants and refugees and women with disabilities.»

He concluded, «The more the dignity of women is protected and promoted, the more the family, the community and society will truly be fostered.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29779?l=english

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