UNGA 77 – Third Committee
Agenda item 26: Advancement of Women
New York, 4 October 2022
Women have a unique and irreplaceable role to play in the world. Yet many are prevented from developing their gifts and participating on an equal footing in society, sometimes due to harmful attitudes but also due to violence, poverty, and discrimination. To address this requires a recommitment by society as a whole to affirm the equal dignity of women and men.
We cannot realize equality for women as long as so many still experience violence. Domestic violence is especially troubling, violating the love, respect and trust which are the hallmarks of a healthy family life. Yet many women feel unable to seek safety and help, in part due to harmful values and practices which turn a blind eye to their suffering. As Pope Francis has noted, it is not only the task of courageous women to “rebel against violence,” but “men, too, are required to do so, to say no to every form of violence, including that against women and girls.” In this regard, healthy family formation is key, as women and men model respect, support, and cooperation for their sons and daughters.
Too many women and girls also experience a particularly insidious type of violence outside the home, including in any form of human trafficking. As Pope Francis has stressed, “human trafficking, through domestic and sexual exploitation, violently relegates women and girls to their supposed role of subordination in the provision of domestic or sexual services.” We must address the factors which put women and girls at risk, such as poverty, lack of education, and family instability. At the same time, we must also address the low accountability and high demand which make trafficking in persons so profitable. Efforts within and among Countries to identify victims and prosecute traffickers have increased and should continue to do so. We must also foster a culture of care which rejects the commodification of women and girls, rejecting all practices which would objectify women and treat them as goods to be bought and sold, including through prostitution and pornography.
As Pope Francis has often emphasized, including by establishing and commemorating the Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, women and girls, wounded by their experiences of violence, sexual exploitation and abuse as trafficking victims, deserve care and support for healing and restoration. To that end, the Holy See would like to highlight some of the initiatives inspired by the priority Pope Francis has accorded this issue. These include inter alia the Santa Marta Group, bringing together Bishops and law enforcement, the Talitha Kum global network of religious sisters, and the #EndSlavery campaign.
The advancement of women and the recognition of their equal dignity is essential for a just society. However, as we combat the harmful stereotypes which deny women and girls equal opportunity, we must not undermine the progress made by failing to recognize and cherish the unique gifts and capacities of women. Women can be the protagonists of a change of direction away from the logic of domination to that of service.This is especially important in the context of peacebuilding, in which women have a unique and important role to play.
Women’s unique capacity for motherhood should also be treasured. Yet, for too many women, pregnancy is accompanied by financial and health risks. A just society should accompany women throughout pregnancy, ensuring their needs are met, protecting them from any kind of unjust treatment and discrimination, and guaranteeing safe motherhood. Distressingly, progress in reducing the maternal mortality rate remains at a standstill, with 800 women dying in childbirth daily. In this regard, the Holy See urges a renewed focus on those interventions which prevent maternal deaths: prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, and clinics equipped to manage pregnancy and delivery complications.
Across the world, women give of themselves daily to sustain and transform their families and communities, often unseen and unheralded. The Holy See will continue to support them as well as all efforts which affirm the equal dignity of each woman and girl and secure the opportunity for them to develop their gifts and reach their potential, thus making women’s advancement a reality.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
 Pope Francis, Video Message on the Occasion of the 8th International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, 8 February 2022.
 Cf. Pope Francis, Speech to the Italian Women’s Center, 24 March 2022.
 Cf. Pope Francis, The Economy of Francesco Address, 24 September 2022.