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Monsignor Urbańczyk Speaks on Gender Equality in the Military at OSCE Meeting

‘Giving true value to the role of women means recognising what Pope Francis has defined as the feminine genius’

 Below is a Vatican-provided text of Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Monsignor Janusz S. Urbańczyk’s address when speaking today, March 8, 2017, about gender equality in the military at the OSCE meeting:

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Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See is grateful for the decision of the Romanian FSC Chairmanship to conduct – within the context of the Forum – a security dialogue on the issue of the participation of women in the Armed Forces of the participating States. Like previous speakers, my Delegation notes the appropriateness of holding this event today, which is International Women’s Day. Allow me also to thank the speakers for their valuable contributions to our discussions.

The Holy See fully supports the political, economic, social and cultural participation of women alongside and on the same level as men. This obviously includes the just participation of women in the Armed Forces, reflecting the indispensable contribution which women make to society and to the international community.

At the same time, my Delegation would caution against reducing the role of women, in society as a whole or in the military in particular, to a mere matter of numbers or percentages for their own sake. Giving true value to the role of women means recognising what Pope Francis has defined as the feminine genius. This feminine genius – “the moral and spiritual strength of a woman” [1] that compliments the moral and spiritual strength of a man – shows itself in a particular way in “[e]ncouraging others to promote sensitivity, understanding and dialogue in settling conflicts big and small, in healing wounds, in nurturing all life at every level of society, and in embodying the mercy and tenderness which bring reconciliation and unity”. [2]

My Delegation is pleased to recognise that today’s discussion takes place in the context of the emphasis which the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship has decided to place on women and security. Greater involvement of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, in the maintenance of peace and security, in peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building is an issue that deserves further attention. As the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister Kurz, said in his address to the Permanent Council on 12 January: “The participation of women is essential for the sustainability of efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts. Peace processes can only be successful in the long term if the voices, views and needs of society are taken into account”.

In conclusion, my Delegation once more thanks the speakers for their presentation and the Romanian FSC Chairmanship for this event, and assures it of the continued engagement of the Holy See on this issue.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[1] John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), n. 30.

[2] Message of His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of the International Conference “Women and the post-2015 development agenda: the challenges of the sustainable development goals”, May 2, 2015.

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