If you are searching for something to restore your faith in humanity, Archbishop Bernadito Auza just gave a powerful and insightful speech on women that is worth reading. In his address, he spoke of themes such as the struggles women have in war-torn countries, the beauty that comes from women and men working together, the need for dignity in the workplace, and the unique gifts women contribute to society.
Auza gave his speech at the Commission on the Status of Women, held at the United Nations’ Headquarters in New York City from March 13th to the 24th. The Commission holds sessions annually and is attended by ministers, senior government officials, and representatives of the UN Member States and Civil Society organizations. Here, these officials and representatives share their experiences and good practices when it comes to women’s equality, and agree on key actions for governments to take in order to better the lives of women in their respective countries.
Each year the session has a different theme. Past themes have included topics like access to education, prevention of violence towards women, and eradicating hunger and poverty for rural women. The theme of this year’s session was “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.”
Auza began his speech on equality in the workplace by addressing common themes portrayed by leaders of institutions who treat women fairly. First, he mentioned that these leaders always recognize and accept that there is a need for absolute equality and dignity for men and women in the workplace while respecting their differences. Auza added, “Second, they treat women fairly when they acknowledge the extraordinary value that women bring as women, not only to the world of work or the family, but to every area of human expression.”
The Archbishop highlighted the powerful collaboration of men and women who respect each other by stating, “With their gifts and through their work and dedication, women both teach and give witness to the essential interrelatedness of male and female, and the shared responsibility we have to serve one another.” Auza then added, “Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the international community protect and strongly reaffirm woman’s dignity in the workplace, the family, and beyond.”
A portion of Auza’s speech touched on the lives of women in war-torn and impoverished countries who are desperate to attain some sort of economic stability for themselves and for their families. He mentioned women who have been exploited, trafficked, and abused, declaring that they need access to skills training and employment if they had any hope in escaping these horrific fates.
“Their dignity must be respected, their human rights protected and promoted, and their feminine genius unleashed by giving them the best opportunities for dignified work,” Auza stated.
Similarly impactful, Auza made statements about treating women equally while also recognizing the unique contributions women make. He also stressed that women should not feel the need to choose between work and family, nor should women limit themselves based on presumed gender roles.
“Even as we celebrate women’s contributions to diverse fields, we must also note a tendency to underestimate, and even demean or overlook, women’s expressed preference and gift for ‘caring for others,’ demonstrated by their special capacity for caring in family and society,” Auza said.
Auza’s impassioned words to the UN were a move to not only enlighten the world to the plight of women living in poverty and desperate sociopolitical environments, but also to demonstrate that women’s lives should not be devalued. His powerful speech should be read in its entirety to truly grasp the significance of his message.
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