03/09/2007, 00.00
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Struggle for gender equality should not ignore differences, says Vatican

In his March 8 UN address, Mgr Migliore explains that the tendency to blur differences between men and women does not help equality but rather undermines society and the family. The two sexes are complementary, not antithetical.

New York (AsiaNews) – The struggle for equality can be “authentic” if the “difference and the complementarity between men and women” is recognised. The tendency “to blur, if not entirely deny, the differences between men and women” in favour of the “the purely cultural dimension [. . .] has [an] impact on the stability of society and of families.” Such is the thrust of Mgr Celestino Migliore’s address to the 61st Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations yesterday. The Holy See’s permanent observer spoke during an informal debate dedicated to the Promotion of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women held on International Women’s Day.

Mgr Migliore said that search for equality between men and women has had positive results but stressed that the overall “struggle for equality would not be authentic” if there was not a parallel recognition of their physical differences and roles, which lead to mutual respect.

The Vatican representative deplored a “tendency [. . .] to blur, if not entirely deny, the differences between men and women. In order to avoid the domination of one sex over the other, their differences tend to be obscured or viewed as mere effects of historical and cultural conditioning.”

Equality between women and men and the empowerment of women,” he insisted, “will be attained when the differences of the sexes are recognized and highlighted as complementary,” not antithetical.

In reiterating the need to continue the fight against all forms of discrimination that prevent the “feminine genius” from making its contribution to society, Mgr Migliore gave concrete examples of the what the Church was doing in this area.

For example, he said that Catholic Relief Services provide poor women micro-financing. This has enabled them to build their “managerial capacities” and involve them “in the management and administration of the services they receive.” Hence, their standards of living have improved—they have gained more respect from men, become more aware of the importance of an education and improved their families’ health.

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