Women’s Conference makes progress but ‘more to be done’
Over a hundred mainly female participants have attended Rome’s second International Conference on Women, organised by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in collaboration with the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations (WUCWO) and the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family (WWALF).
With a theme of ‘Women and the post-2015 development agenda – the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’, the conference aimed to offer the most complete overview possible of the main issues affecting women throughout the world in our times.
Issues considered at the conference included female anthropology in modern culture, education and women, the role of women in interreligious violence as a path to lasting peace, and such issues as slavery, violence against women, and the increasing prevalence of ‘femicide’ – gender selective abortion and infanticide.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ Message for Peace, the theme of this year’s message being, “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters”, the conference denounced human trafficking, which has many times been described by the Holy Father as a crime against humanity.
Speaking at the start of the conference, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that while there had been much progress for women in many countries, “much still remains to be done”.
Global future requires a united approach – Cardinal Parolin
“When the future of the planet is at stake, there are no political frontiers, barriers or walls behind which we can hide to protect ourselves from the effects of environmental and social degradation,” according to Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Speaking at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross at a conference on ‘The New Climate Economy: How Economic Growth and Sustainability Can Go Hand in Hand’, the cardinal began by citing Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate and said that faced with such a universal threat, “there is no room for the globalisation of indifference, the economy of exclusion or the throwaway culture so often denounced by Pope Francis”.
The cardinal said these words could be a significant source of inspiration for the conference, which would attempt to develop ‘win-win opportunities’ that would help to achieve both economic growth and sustainability. He described the conference as timely, given how preparatory process for UN summits of development and climate change were underway.
Both summits, he said, represent “the serious ethical and moral responsibility that each of us has towards the whole human family, especially the poor and future generations”.
Pope reminds parents of their ‘natural vocation’ to educate
Parents should strive to “reassume fully their educational role” in caring for their children, Pope Francis has said, maintaining that Christian communities “are called to offer support to the educational mission of families”.
The family has a “natural vocation” to educate its children “so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others”, the Pontiff explained at his Wednesday morning audience, continuing a series of addresses on the family.
Claiming that life is not made in laboratories, the Pontiff said patience is needed even in the best of families, where Christian parents can show that “a good family education is the spinal cord of humanism”, generating a “social radiation” to help those less fortunate in their family lives.
Not all families can do this, he said, highlighting the plight of families where parents are separated or are “kidnapped” by financial need, saying “it is difficult for parents to educate their children when they see them only in the evening, when they return home tired from work,” he acknowledged.
Challenging so-called “experts” who take parents’ roles in many aspects of education, he lamented how “parents today run the risk of excluding themselves from the life of their children”, saying “a rupture has been opened between the family and society, between the family and school”.