Vatican City, Oct 2, 2020 / 08:00 am
A Vatican official told the United Nations Thursday that resources that could be invested in basic healthcare, nutrition, and sanitation for impoverished women are instead allotted to “sexual and reproductive health” and “so-called new rights.”
“Women deserve better,” Francesca DiGiovanni, an undersecretary for multilateral affairs in the Vatican Secretariat of State, told the high-level UN meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference on women Oct. 1.
“Hundreds of millions of women and children lack basic health care and adequate nutrition and sanitation. Rather than investing resources to remedy those deficiencies and improve the overall health and wellbeing of women, some have overemphasized certain aspects of a women’s sexual and reproductive health, including the suppression of their capacity for motherhood,” she said.
“Others are constantly seeking recognition of so-called new rights, which are not found in the mandate of the Fourth World Conference nor in international human rights treaties.”
The representative for the Holy See said that women’s health “must be cared for in a more holistic way, in particular, in those situations of emergency, where what sometimes is considered an ‘immediate solution’ actually involves further violence, isolation and despair.”
DiGiovanni is the first woman to serve in a managerial position in the Vatican Secretariat of State. She has a law degree and has worked as an official in the Vatican Section for Relations with States for more than 25 years, with specialties including humanitarian law, communications, migrants and refugees, and the status of women.
Addressing the UN meeting marking the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, DiGiovanni recalled the Holy See’s active contribution to the conference held in Beijing in 1995.
Pope John Paul II released his Letter to Women on the eve of the Beijing conference. The Polish pope wrote that he wanted to “speak directly to every woman” and to “consider the essential issue of the dignity and rights of women, as seen in the light of the word of God.”