By Holy See Mission
Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations 69th Session of the General Assembly Third Committee, Agenda Item 27: Advancement of women New York, 14 October 2014 Madam Chair, The advancement of women throughout the world has been the central focus of common and continued efforts and initiatives over many years now. These endeavors have borne fruits: the situation of women in general has largely improved, especially of those who were in critical situations created by poverty and discrimination of all sorts. The reduction of maternal and infant mortality shows that mobilizing adequate resources saves many lives. Such remarkable improvements call for further efforts in order to more effectively tackle distressing situations that many women still face today due to lack of education and healthcare, in particular where such formation and care could prevent devastating consequences, as in the cases of female genital mutilation and obstetric fistula. There are still women who endure violence and discrimination, and have no access to the administration of justice and basic services: women migrant workers, undocumented women, women unjustly imprisoned, women seeking asylum, women refugees, women who find themselves in dramatic situations and are exposed to all sorts of abuses, and many others whose human rights continue to be denied. My delegation is particularly alarmed over the impact of violence, including sexual violence, on women caught in conflicts and wars in many countries and regions around the world, more recently in the Middle East. The Holy See urges all States and the entire international community to take every possible and necessary step in order to make humanitarian aid accessible to all victims of violence and, in particular, to protect women and children from abuses and human trafficking. Madam Chair, Reports show that, in many parts of the world, women and children form the majority of the poor and are affected by the burden of poverty in very specific ways. In many developing countries, for example, women are the most affected by the lack of infrastructure for water and energy supply. In urban areas, women are the ones who suffer the most from violence. Poverty often creates or compounds an unacceptable gap between men and women, boys and girls in terms of access to basic services and education. In highly commending those countries where significant progress has been achieved in these areas, the Holy See believes that much is still to be done to effectively address the inequalities between men and women, girls and boys. But beyond inequalities, an even greater and more urgent attention should be focused on the fight against want, hunger and thirst, against lack of access to clean water and basic healthcare services, to education and employment opportunities. Rescuing women and girls from poverty is the key to their advancement and the best guarantee to achieve equality for them. Madam Chair, My delegation believes that the advancement of women should not be measured merely by the criterion of equality with men. For instance, the fight in favor of advancement of women should also be a fight for better conditions for mothers. It is in this sense that efforts to promote the advancement of women should not be at the expense of other human rights. Moreover, my delegation wishes to highlight the important role that women play in poverty alleviation. Women migrant and domestic workers, women living in rural areas or in slums have been playing a critical role in the success of small-scale economic activities and microfinance. Assuring women equal access to resources, capital and technology is a most concrete way of recognizing their enormous contribution to society and assuring their advancement. Finally, every effort should be exerted to better recognize women as protagonists in every aspect of life. Invaluable contributions of women across centuries must be recognized: intellectuals and artists, wives and mothers, workers and entrepreneurs, educators and caregivers, civic and political leaders, thinkers and spiritual leaders. We have women who have been and are impressive examples of daily heroism, and who stand up to exercise their human rights and live in a dignified way, in the midst and in spite of exclusion and violence, of mistreatment and discrimination. Madam Chair, My delegation remains very supportive of the efforts and initiatives that can protect the inherent dignity of women, improve their conditions of living and promote the recognition and full development of their talents and skills. Thank you, Madam Chair.
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