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Explanation of Position: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work


Explanation of Position of the Delegation of the Holy See

after the adoption of the Agreed Conclusions of Sixty-first Session of the

Commission on the Status of Women

“Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work” (E/CN.6/2017/L.5)


Mr. Chair and Madame Facilitator,

My delegation would like to thank you, your team, the bureau, and UN WOMEN for your commitment to achieving legitimate consensus during this year’s informal negotiations of the Agreed Conclusions, which affirm the vital interlinkages between women’s economic empowerment and their right to decent work and full and productive employment, while also addressing the opportunities and challenges they face both in the work place and in society.

In particular, my delegation commends the willingness of all delegations to affirm the invaluable contribution of women to the welfare of their family, society and the economy, particularly through unpaid care and household chores, which are still not adequately recognized. We are also pleased to see the promotion of policies and initiatives that support the reconciliation of work and family life through the sharing of responsibilities and the promotion of social protections and policies necessary for empowering women to work while also caring for their families.

We would express our sincere gratitude to the vast majority of this membership, which worked with determination and in good faith to bridge the gaps that so many of our delegations face on what are often initially highly divergent positions. Consensus does not come by ultimatum, but through trust and respect for national sovereignty and the dignity of those we represent.

While affirming the intention and purpose of the conclusions before us, as outlined above, my delegation wishes to make reservations on the following concepts used therein:

  1. Our delegation interprets the terms “sexual and reproductive health,” “reproductive rights,” and “family planning” as applying to a holistic concept of health. We do not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients as a dimension of these terms. We do not recognize the creation of any new rights or the promotion of radical individual autonomy in this regard, as fully laid out in our reservations registered at both Cairo and Beijing conferences. We do not understand reproductive rights, by any means, as a prerequisite for economic empowerment or development.
  2. Regarding “education” or “information” on “sexuality,” my delegation reaffirms the “primary responsibility” and the “prior rights” of parents, in 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. With reference to "gender", the Holy See understands the term to be grounded in biological sexual identity and difference. Regarding the concepts of “gender norms” and “gender stereotypes” the Holy See does not recognize the idea that gender is socially constructed, but that is found in the objective identity of the human person as born male or female.

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

I thank you.