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“Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development”

Explanation of Position of the Holy See

Sixtieth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Agreed Conclusions

“Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development”

Mr. Chair,


My delegation would like to thank you and your Bureau for guiding the Commission’s work and for their tireless efforts in convening the informal consultations on this year’s agreed conclusions, which reaffirms the vital role of women as both beneficiaries and agents of people-centered sustainable development.


On this basis, my delegation was supportive of the need for an outcome focused on the implementation of the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Nonetheless, while supporting many elements in the final text, particularly the right to education and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, many of the elements are equally disturbing and undermine the purpose of this year’s agreed conclusions and our common objectives for the empowerment of women and girls and the achievement of sustainable development.


In this regard, my delegation would request to place a reservation on paragraph 23o and to clarify its position on the following:


1. Regarding the terms “sexual and reproductive health,” “sexual and reproductive health-care services,” “reproductive rights” and “family planning” and other language on which the Holy See has registered reservations at Cairo and Beijing, we reiterate these reservations as set out more fully in the Report of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and in the Report of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. In particular, we reject the existence of “safe abortion” and views this contradictory in nature, and ICPD denies recourse to abortion for family planning and the creation of any new rights in this regard.


2. Regarding so-called “education” or “information” on “human sexuality,” my delegation reaffirms the “primary responsibility” and the “prior rights” of parents, including their right to religious freedom, when it comes to the education and upbringing of their children, as enshrined, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Convention of the Rights of the Child.


3. By “gender,” my delegation understands to mean “male or female”, and to have no meaning other than the customary and general usage of the term.


We kindly ask that the text of this statement be included in the official records of this meeting.


Thank you.