This week the Holy See Mission delivered two statements at the UN.
Climate Change and the
Sustainable Development Agenda
On March 24, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the High-Level Event on “Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza said that global consensus, as shown in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is essential for confronting some of the world’s biggest challenges. But these plans will remain just rhetoric unless they are followed up with specific, coordinated, meaningful and quantifiable steps forward. Pope Francis has insisted that “concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and our own interior peace” are inseparable. Human beings are part of nature and ecological crises are human crises. Our politics, economies, technologies, businesses and personal behavior are interconnected. Archbishop Auza praised the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement for acknowledging the central importance of the human person and insisted that human dignity — especially of the weak, marginalized, poor, ill, unborn and elderly, refuges and victims of violence — must remain central to development conversations. Similarly, intergenerational solidarity is key, in order to leave future generations a better planet rather than a degraded one. The evaluation of the technical, economic, social, political and legal indicators in the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement must be measured by their impact on the human person, especially those left behind.
The statement can be found here.
Water for Sustainable Development
On March 22, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the First Dialogue to discuss improving the integration and coordination of the work of the UN on the water-related goals and targets under its sustainable development pillar. The dialogue was dedicated to the theme, “International Decade for Action (2018-2028): Water for Sustainable Development.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza said that water rights are basic and pressing because water is essential to life. Access to clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right and condition to sustainable development, he said. There’s a corresponding responsibility to care for and share this life-sustaining resource through juridical instruments and personal accountability. Because of water’s importance, it could cause conflict in the absence cross-border cooperation and binding legal instruments.
The statement can be found here.
Experts describe help needed
to keep trafficking survivors
from returning to the streets
Governments, corporations, and nonprofits can help rescued sex trafficking survivors by giving them a fair chance in the job market, according to experts at a Holy See Mission side event.
On March 22, the Holy See Mission sponsored a side event entitled, “Economically empowering Trafficking Survivors to Stay Permanently Off the Streets,” together with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Order of Malta and the Universal Peace Federation, as part of the 61st annual Commission on the Status of Women at UN Headquarters in New York City.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the UN, said although trafficking is one of the darkest and revolting tragedies in our day, there is much hope provided by the organizations and governments that work to eradicate trafficking and compassionately care for the survivors.
“So many women and men, girls and boys, have been left behind, left on the streets, left in the sweatshops,” Archbishop Auza said. “For that reason, now is a time of urgent and effective action, to stop the sources of trafficking at its roots, to help those presently ensnared in this form of slavery escape, and help those who have been liberated to access the resources they need to grow and remain in freedom.”
Women@theWell Founder Sister Lynda Dearlove, said her London-based organization works to help women exit the life of prostitution, many of whom are trafficking victims, who find difficulty transitioning to other jobs for a variety of reasons such as a lack of marketable skills, social stigma, trauma-related mental health issues, and criminal records. She said attitudes and policy that neglect to acknowledge and heal the abuses women in prostitution face perpetuate the cycle of trafficking and keep women on the streets. Policies that shift the burden from the female supply to the male demand by decriminalizing prostitution for the women who are exploited, while outlawing and deterring pimps and those who buy sex, has a great impact on ending the cycle while respecting the dignity of trafficking survivors.
“Demand is everywhere, and our only way of tackling prostitution and the trafficking of women is to universally tackle demand” Sr. Dearlove said, noting that a society that views sex merely as a leisure activity contributes to the exploitative sex industry. “What is fueling demand is the expectation that it is ok that women’s bodies are commodified.”
Nancy Rivard, founder of Airline Ambassadors International, a group of more than 8,000 airline employees who advocate for trafficking victims and are trained to spot trafficking perpetrators and victims while in transit, said corporations have a large role to play by their ability to empower trafficking survivors economically through job training and employment. Airline Ambassadors advocates for the travel industry and other industries to add hiring of trafficking survivors to their human trafficking policies. She mentioned two of the organization’s own active members, Petra Hensley and Donna Hubbard, who were trafficking survivors themselves and are now flight attendants for American Airlines.
“Some company took a chance and gave them a job,” she said. “We can encourage the CEOs of the travel industry to hire survivors, train them and make excellent jobs.”
Sr. Joan Dawber, Founder and Executive Director of LifeWay Network, which works with organizations to offers safe housing as well as education to trafficking victims, said funding comprehensive housing is fundamental in giving trafficking survivors a chance at life off the streets. She said the organization’s safe houses in New York City are the only ones that cater to both domestic and international survivors of trafficking, with a community-living approach that enables women to recover from trauma and regain independence.
Jon Lines, Executive Vice President of Operation Underground Railroad, which partners with local law enforcement around the world to arrest traffickers and has rescued more than 650 children from trafficking rings since 2013, said many rescued children spend the rest of their childhood in local safe houses, where they receive jobs and skills training.
Lines said many of the children need encouragement and emotional support in addition to vocational training, noting a young trafficking survivor in Mexico who was at a loss for words when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“She explained she never really thought about growing up because she never thought she was going to,” Lines said. “She eventually became a sous chef.”
Peter DiMarzio, who is the Victim Assistance Specialist for victims of trafficking for U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, said one of the greatest challenges for enabling trafficking victims to find leave the streets and employment is helping them to overcome drug addiction, which must be resolved before they can be accepted into most safe houses. He said partnerships with hospitals that can aid in detox provide an invaluable service to trafficking survivors.
To watch the event in its entirety, click here.
Experts Link the importance of
Fertility Awareness to Woman's Economic Empowerment
Fertility Awareness addresses many women’s health concerns and can have lasting economic impact, according to experts at a Holy See Mission event.
On March 23, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN co-sponsored an event entitled “Fertility Awareness and Women’s Economic Empowerment,” together with World Organization of the Billings Ovulation Method (WOOMB) and the Fertility Education and Medical Management Foundation (FEMM) at UN Headquarters in New York City.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, said respecting a woman’s dignity entails valuing her in a holistic way, while acknowledging her economic and social contributions to society, but not undermining her nature.
“Various modern techniques of ‘human reproduction’ do not respect this full dignity of the woman,” Archbishop Auza said. "They regard fertility and pregnancy as diseases rather than normal states of a woman. They reduce or reject, rather than reverence, the motherly aspects of a woman’s body and personality. And so they do not truly promote or empower her, but undermine her holistic development. “
Dr. Danielle Koestner, is a Family Medicine and Obstetrics physician in the under-served community of Muskegon, Michigan, who after working with all types of contraception, said she has found Fertility Awareness Based Methods, which chart the body’s indicators to determine ovulation, to be the most effective to achieve or prevent pregnancy, especially for the virtually non-existent cost for its users.
“I work with underserved women, so I wanted to make sure I had something simple and cost effective,” she said, noting natural methods have no negative biological or ethical side effects.
Anne-Catherine Belanger, Administrative Representative of WOOMB International to the United Nations, described how the Billings Ovulation Method, which uses bodily indicators such as a woman’s secretion is not ‘the rhythm method’,” and cited the work of Dr. James Brown who found the method to be 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy.
“Though there is a surge of fertility awareness methods, the existence of them has remained largely unknown,” Belanger said, suggesting that this is a result of ideological biases and organizations with an economic interest in marketing contraceptives. “When women can understand their own fertility, they develop their own economic-independence and become self-reliant.”
Panelists also noted the health impact fertility awareness and education has on the general health of women, apart from being a tool to achieve or avoid pregnancy.
Anna Halpine, founder of the World Youth Alliance and FEMM, which uses an iPhone app as well as traditional charting methods to manage woman's fertility, connected the scientific knowledge to the discussions at the United Nations, and noted how fertility education can help achieve several of the Sustainable Development Goals, by contributing to gender equality, affordable access to women’s healthcare, education, and empowerment of women.
“The needs facing women worldwide sometimes vary,” she said. “Yet all over the world, and despite different levels of development and educational opportunity for women, most women have never been taught fully how their bodies work,” she said, noting that only three percent of women know how to identify if they have ovulated, although it is a critical biomarker of women’s health.
Because of the multitude of information a woman’s ovulation and fertility can provide about her health, Halpine said, fertility education has economic benefits wider-ranging than allowing a woman to space her pregnancies.
“Fertility education is a hidden asset in breaking the glass ceiling,” she said, citing a study led by Dr. Pilar Vigil at the Reproductive Health Research Institute that followed women in high level positions who left the workplace due to symptoms commonly considered to be signs of “burnout.” By monitoring their monthly charts, Dr. Vigil was able to diagnose and treat underlying hormonal imbalances in many of the women.
“Once treated, these women quickly returned to their high functioning positions and continued to participate in significant economic and professional achievements,” Halpine said, noting these tools enable a woman to obtain “peak physical condition, who is able to pursue her education, dreams, and economic projects with all the talents and capacities that she has.”
Dr. Zakia Jahan, Founder and Director of the Center for Human Development in Bangladesh, said FEMM’s version of fertility awareness is an effective alternative to contraception for women in Bangladesh because it does not conflict with religious or cultural principles among the people, especially among rural women. Dr. Zakia also noted that FEMM has also helped empower men to appreciate the value of women’s health, as they are stakeholders in the process.
“Working together, men and women can invest in health and opportunity for women, ensuring that women’s unique talents and skills are developed and used to achieve personal and economic goals for themselves, their families and their communities,” she said.
Dr. Zakia also has a personal success story with the technology, since the tool helped her achieve her first pregnancy within one month, and enabled a three-year spacing for her second child, with whom she is currently pregnant.
Along with practicing family medicine, Dr. Nerea Lopetegui, the final speaker on the panel, is a FEMM trainer and said fertility education and management contributes to early detection and prevention of other illnesses and can have lasting effects on women’s health even past their child-bearing years.
“Women will be able to access care early,” she said. “Good health has a positive sizeable impact on economic output. Good health in an economy should not be underestimated.”
To watch the event in its entirety, click here.
The Means of Woman's Full Flourishing through Her Many Forms of Work
Discussed at Holy See Event
On March 23, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN sponsored an event entitled “The Distinctiveness of Woman’s Work and Her Empowerment,” as part of the 61st Commission of the Status of Women at UN Headquarters in New York City, dedicated to the theme of Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza said the international community and private institutions must work together to promote women’s natural desires to have a family and to work, by adapting the workplace and culture to allow women to flourish.
“In order to treat women fairly, leaders, whether women or men, whether in public and private institutions, must accept the absolute equality in dignity of woman and man while respecting also their differences,” he Archbishop Auza said. “They must acknowledge the extraordinary value that women bring as women, not only to the world of work or the family, but to every area of human expression.”
Mary Rice Hasson, Director the Catholic Women’s Forum at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and mother of seven, said that women make irreplaceable contributions in the workplace, and the business world ought to cater to a woman’s needs and desires to focus on her vocation to her family.
“When we talk about women and work, it’s not fungible with men,” Hasson said. “We bring something different and it makes something better, and if a company really values a women’s contribution, then they make room for women on our terms. A job that makes us less human and not be able to be around our families is not something most women will want to stick around for.”
Radiologist Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie had four children during her medical training, and expressed her gratitude to the accommodations her medical school made for her to fulfill her calling as both mother and physician.
“While fully including women as doctors demands changes in traditional practices, as a whole it greatly enriches the vocation, by adding to the medical mix the moral strengths and distinctive aptitudes of one half of the population,” she said.
She cited a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that patients in the same hospital, with the same diseases, had lower mortality rates when treated by female doctors compared with those cared for by men.
“One study of course does not scientifically prove that women make better doctors than men,” she added to laughter, “but the study does indicate that men and women relate to their patients differently, and I’m sure that this is due to the distinct moral strengths women bring to their vocation. The patients reap the rewards of a workplace that welcomes and accommodates women.”
Because of the value she says women add to the medical profession, Dr. Christie encouraged medical schools and hospitals to make accommodation for female physicians who want to grow their families, and exhorted professional women to embrace motherhood, which will enhance their work as doctors or any field they undertake.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, former Attorney for the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, who now works as a legal advisor for the The Catholic Association, said she also had employers accommodate her as she grew her family to ten children.
“There are many who think that there is an incompatibility between a woman's work outside the home and her work in the home,” Picciotti-Bayer said. “I don't believe that there is an incompatibility. Whenever there are two jobs to do, there undoubtedly will be a tension,” she said, noting that many women, including herself, may take a few years away from the workforce to care for her family, but ought to have pathways for reentry when she chooses to return to work.
“The principal notion of professional work is to provide for the needs of society and the principal need of society is to support the family,” she said. “But if we constantly contrast work in the home with outside work, it could lead to the greater mistake of women giving up their work in the home entirely.”
Vincenzina Santoro, a former Vice President of JP Morgan and Company, international economist and co-author of the recently published Family Capital and the Sustainable Development Goals, gave a history of women’s contribution in the workplace, noting the many female CEOs and Presidents major corporations such as General Motors, IBM, Xerox, and PepsiCo.
“As women at the UN contemplate how the work world has changed, they should celebrate the success of many women who have advanced beyond equality to the apex of their professions via their superior capabilities and accomplishments as wives, mothers and CEOs,” Santoro said.
To watch the event in its entirety, click here.
May 10: An Evening with Raphael: Raphael's Art and Human Dignity
6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 4
May 12: The Centenary of Fatima and the Enduring Relevance of Its Message of Peace
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 2
Please join us for the 26th Anniversary Path to Peace Gala Dinner on Wednesday, May 24 at the Pierre Hotel. The 2017 Path to Peace Award will be presented during the dinner to Mario Cardinal Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria in recognition of his work defending Christians and other victims in the Middle East.
To register for the gala dinner, please visit holyseemission.org/PathtoPeace2017