Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy
Before the Third Committee of the
60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
on agenda item 65: Implementation of the outcome of
the Fourth World Conference on Women
and of the special session of the General Assembly
“Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace
in the twenty-first century”
New York, 13 October 2005
The Delegation of the Holy See
continues to devote attention to the follow-up process of the Beijing
Declaration and Platform of Action, as well as to the subsequent Outcome
Documents. Despite some positive advancement in the condition of women in
today’s world, vulnerability remains a constant in women’s lives.
Violence against women in all its
forms, including domestic violence and harmful traditional practices, is a grave
violation of the dignity of women and their human rights. In some countries
female foeticide and infanticide continue. Often, violence against women
results from the consideration of a woman, not as a human person with rights on
an equal basis with others, but as an object to be exploited. In this context,
an increasing scourge is trafficking of women and girls, as well as various
forms of prostitution. All forms of violence against women are rightly to be
condemned and the Holy See, for its part, seeks to work in collaboration with
all those of good will in giving priority to social policies aimed at the
elimination of the causes of such violence. For example, in June of this year,
the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People organized an
International Meeting of Pastoral Care for the Liberation of Street Women.
Any strategy aimed at improving
the lives of women must include special consideration for the women and girls
who suffer so. While this process will not be easy, it is essential in order to
enable them to regain their self esteem, rebuild trusting relationships, and
become aware once again of their value, dignity and worth.
According to recent International
Labour Organization (ILO) statistics, women represent 60 per cent of the world’s
550 million working poor. These women do not earn enough even to lift
themselves and their families above poverty or the salary of one dollar a day.
Poverty prevents women from attaining their basic needs such as nutrition,
sanitation, basic health care and education, and it continues to deprive
societies of the enriching and irreplaceable contribution that can be furnished
only by women.
In order to reverse the process
of the feminization of poverty, my delegation believes that attention should be
given to increasing women’s access to and control over productive resources and
capital. Several Catholic Organizations are engaged in microcredit programs for
women aimed at empowering them through forming self-managed microcredit
projects, in places like Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Latin America and the
Once empowered, women will play a
key role in the development and well being of their family, community and
society. All members of society have a role to play in promoting that
Illiteracy, present especially
among women in rural areas, is an evident obstacle to development and to the
attainment of women’s basic rights. With the assistance of others, every woman
has the right to make the fullest of her potential, talents and abilities
because, as we read in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has
the right to education”. More and more, we are made aware of the fact that
investment in the education of girls is the fundamental key to the full
advancement of women.
The Delegation of the Holy See
recognizes the need to address urgently specific health care needs of women. We
know that many women today still do not have access even to basic health care.
The Holy See continues to advocate a holistic approach to the health of women
which does not exclusively focus on a single aspect of a woman but on her
overall and comprehensive health care needs. It is a matter of serious concern
that women are particularly vulnerable to the tragic consequences of world
health problems and epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as to the
lack of safe-water and sanitation. Furthermore, women have the right to the
highest standard of health care during pregnancy and the right to deliver
children in a clean, safe environment, with adequate professional help.
It is clear that much still has
to be done for the full advancement of women in today’s world. It is to be hoped
that the United Nations will play an important role in transforming their
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.