October 8, 2019
Statement at the General Assembly Third Committee on the Advancement of Women

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
3rd Committee consideration of agenda item 26 (a, b): Advancement of Women
New York, 8 October 2019

Mr. Chair,

The discrimination and violence faced by many women globally continues to impede the full exercise of their unique and irreplaceable role in the world. Pope Francis, during a recent interview, stressed that “the world without women doesn't work.” (1)  For this reason, society must continue to advance and defend all the rights derived from the inalienable human dignity of every woman and girl.

While significant progress has been made in increasing the participation of women in social, political, economic and cultural life, and in ending violence against women and girls, much remains to be achieved. This includes securing the political will and resources needed to address the factors that drive women and girls into situations of vulnerability, such as wars and conflicts, extreme poverty, migration and poor access to education and healthcare.

Mr. Chair,

The Holy See remains deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination faced today by migrant women in particular, including female migrant workers, who “endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights.” (2) As the report of the Secretary-General details, female migrant workers, especially those with irregular migration status, are not only at risk of labor exploitation, but also face broader social exclusion. (3) These women deserve to be welcomed, protected, and integrated within our communities with dignity. They also deserve full and equal recognition before the law, including through access to the justice system. These women courageously leave their land and communities, often in the most difficult circumstances, to provide for their family and to assure their children of a better future. It is necessary, therefore, to adopt specific measures to protect and assist women migrant workers and to recognize their precious contribution to society.

In this regard, my Delegation believes that the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration offers an important framework to address violence and discrimination against women migrant workers and to call attention to human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the context of international migration. In fact, migrant women and girls, in particular those with irregular migration status, face increased risk of human trafficking. Far too often, they become victims of notorious forms of modern slavery, such as sexual exploitation and forced labor. Even more abominable are cases involving trafficked newborns. Indeed, there are a frightening number of cases that now involve women who are coerced to serve as surrogate mothers and to watch their children be bought, sold and trafficked as merchandise to the highest bidder.

The condemnation of these heinous crimes must be accompanied by effective legislation and enforcement to prevent trafficking in persons and limit impunity as much as possible. In fact, while there have been various advances in formulating adequate legal instruments to investigate, prosecute and punish traffickers, in unlocking the financial chains, understanding the connection to other forms of organized crime and corruption, and fostering cooperation at and across borders, concrete measures and effective sanctions remain often limited. (4)

Mr. Chair,

In 2020, the global community will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Holy See reiterates the importance of the promotion of women, so that they may realize their full potential and truly contribute to the common good of society. The Holy See insists on equality in dignity between men and women and on equal respect at all stages of their lives. “There will never be justice, including equality, development and peace, for women or for men,” Pope John Paul II wrote in 1995 to the Secretary-General of the Fourth World Conference on Women of the United Nations, “unless there is an unfailing determination to respect, protect, love and serve life – every human life, at every stage and in every situation.”(5) This remains an utmost priority and focus of the Holy See.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.