Catholic World News

Vatican UN envoy: equal treatment for women implies recognizing their special role

March 17, 2017

The Vatican’s representative to the UN has encouraged world leaders to promote equal treatment for women in the workplace, while also recognizing women’s “expressed preference and gift for caring for others.”

Addressing the 61st Commission on the Status of Women, Archbishop Bernardito Auza said that fair treatment for women requires both respecting their equal dignity and recognizing the differences between women and men. To protect women’s equal dignity, he said, “adequate measures are needed to combat the growing informality and precarious nature of women’s employment.” He added that abuse and exploitation must be ended, noting in particular the exploitation of vulnerable women who are immigrants and refugees.

In the workplace, the archbishop continued, there should not be arbitrary rules as to what men and women should do. Citing Pope Francis, Archbishop Auza argued againt “rigidity” in defining roles. He also suggested that men should be expected to support “a better sharing of responsibility within the family.”

At the same time, because women have a special preference for nurturing others—especially children—the archbishop said that employers should not discriminate against women “simply because of the prospect of maternity leave or extended leave to care for children or sick and elderly family members.” He stressed the value of the work that women do in the home, saying that “even though women’s unpaid work is not officially recognized by the formal economy, it not only contributes to every country’s economic development, but it also sustains the fundamental pillars that govern a society and a nation.”

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