“In corporate life, women are definitely expected to adopt a male, aggressive, competitive (attitude) and it doesn't suit them, they get very stressed,” Elsworthy said, noting that “a lot of them are packing it in, they don't like it.”
Politics is another field that can be “very harsh” for women, she said, explaining that women need to look for what she called a “deep inner power of the feminine,” but which is “not feminism.”
Instead, for Elsworthy this “feminine power” involves the five characteristics of her notion of feminine intelligence as well as “also the ability to self-inspect.”
This, she said, is where religion comes in, “because all the great religious traditions...demand that we spend time every day in silence.”
Also present at the news conference was Marguerite Barankitse, founder of the Maison Shalom foundation, which she established in response to the aftermath of the 1972 and 1993 genocides of both the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Burundi as a means of ending the country’s cycle of violence.
In comments to journalists, Barankitse said that for her, even while the mass killings of Tutsis were taking place in 1993, being a Christian and going to Church “was more important than being Tutsi.”
She recounted that at one point during the genocide she had gone to the archbishop’s house in her village to seek refuge, thinking that because of Christianity’s emphasis on forgiveness, members of her parish community would be more balanced, but instead found that the people were filled with hatred.
After this experience and seeing the prejudice coursing through the country at the time, Barankitse said she decided to become teacher after genocide, because in doing so “I can teach children love and compassion.”
Barankitse said that some 60 percent of her family were killed by Hutus during the genocide, but that instead of retaliating, she wanted to establish the Shalom foundation in order to “create a new generation.”
Chantal Gotz, founder and organizer of VoF, also spoke at the news conference, telling journalists that part of the reason for establishing the organization, in addition to giving women a platform in the Church to highlight their contributions, was to break a somewhat negative image of the Church when it comes to women.
When VoF was founded, she said, a journalist had mentioned to her that while more space needed to be created for women in the Church, particularly when it comes to leadership roles, “we have no idea what Catholic women are doing in the Church.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“The fact was also that four years ago, the image of the Catholic Church was always viewed in a quite negative way, nothing was highlighted on what is the Church doing in a positive way,” she said, adding that they are hoping to “bring new stories” to light showing what women already do.
Media is key in sharing these stories, she said, explaining that they hope to “highlight the positive, not just in Catholic press, but we also need secular press to spread the message of what women are doing and the great work that they’re already doing.”
Kerry Robinson, founding executive director and global ambassador of the Leadership Roundtable, was also present at the news conference. Founded in 2005 after the sex abuse crisis broke, the roundtable is made up of professionals from various fields and is dedicated to promoting best practices in the fields of management, finances and human resources in the Church.
In her comments to journalists, Robinson said she sees Pope Francis as “a reason to be hopeful” given his emphasis on mercy, the poor and his general closeness to people.
When it comes to women, she said one of the “signature motivations” for work of the roundtable is to ensure that their daughters and other young women have more of a voice and a stronger place in the future.
However, she said the push for women’s priestly ordination (which continues to be advocated for despite the fact that Pope Francis has already definitively closed the door) can be distracting from other initiatives that actually help women.