Pope Francis asks businesses to support working women: They’re ‘afraid to get pregnant’

Pope with baby Pope Francis addressed a group of Italian entrepreneurs Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, about the need to support working mothers. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis is stressing the importance of accommodating pregnant women as employees — and calling on the business world to find a solution. 

“Please, this is a problem for working women: Study it, see how to make sure that a pregnant woman can go on, both with the child she is expecting and with her job,” he said on Monday in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

The 85-year-old pontiff addressed a group of entrepreneurs — the General Confederation of Italian Industry — and the world of business in general during his remarks. He sounded the alarm on low birth rates and encouraged companies to support pregnant employees.

“Still on the subject of the birth rate: Sometimes, a woman who is employed here or works there is afraid to get pregnant because there is a reality — I am not saying among you — but there is a reality that as soon as the belly begins to show, you get booted out: ‘No, no, you can’t get pregnant,’” he cautioned.

Countries depend on families for prosperity and a future, he said.

“There is an urgent need for concrete action to support families and the birth rate,” Pope Francis said. “This is what we need to work on, to get out of the demographic winter in which Italy and other countries are living, as soon as possible. It is a bad demographic winter, which goes against us and prevents us from the possibility of growth.”

He added: “Today having children is a matter, I would say, of patriotism, also to take the country forward.”

Pope Francis has expressed concern about declining birth rates in the past. In May, he decried the low birth rate in Western countries, describing it as an urgent social emergency and a “new poverty.” And, in January, he called it a civilizational loss when dogs and cats replace children in society. In 2021, the pontiff asked society which it values more: children or money.

He has also voiced support for working women. In 2021, Pope Francis called for more support for working mothers during and after the coronavirus pandemic, saying that women can significantly contribute to the “reconstruction of the economy and of the society to come.” At the time, the pope called women’s presence “increasingly precious at the center of the processes of social, political, occupational, and institutional renewal.”

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