The Holy See paid homage to all women and girls who have selflessly served others in education, healthcare, and forming the youth and upheld the four Missionaries of Charity murdered in Yemen as an example of women with unwavering dedication to peace.
“My delegation feels duty-bound at this moment to remember with gratitude and sorrow the four Missionary Sisters of the Charity Sister Anselm from India, Sister Marguerite and Sister Reginette from Rwanda, and Sister Judit from Kenya, who were massacred by cowardly fundamentalists on March 4 in Aden, Yemen,” a Vatican spokesperson told the United Nations Security Council March 28.
“There is no greater sacrifice for peace and reconciliation than to lay down one’s life for it,” he said. “May their blood these be seeds for a peaceful and reconciled Yemen!” Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza said.
His address was part of the U.N. Security Council Open Debate entitled, “Women, peace and security: The role of women in conflict prevention and resolution in Africa.”
The archbishop explained that women are “beyond crucial” to conflict resolution and peace-building efforts, as is their “special gift” of showing others “to be more receptive and sensitive to the needs of others.”
Therefore, it is essential that the work of women in these initiatives is highlighted and supported by the U.N. Security Council and all participating governments, especially in the area of education, he said.
He lauded all the women who, “even in the most difficult circumstances,” have found a way to “distinguish themselves for their bravery, constancy and dedication” in the development of their nations through work in “education, healthcare and values formation.”
He thanked the Council for its work in raising awareness about “the vital role of women in preventive diplomacy, mediation, peacekeeping missions and peace-building processes,” but said that this recognition “must be fully translated into action.”
The archbishop highlighted the work of the Catholic Church in supporting the “inspiring work of African women” on their path to foster human dignity in their countries by standing up for the weak, preventing violence in their communities, and caring for victims of conflict.
However, the Church must continue its work in support African women in political power and diplomatic influence by to provide education to future generations of leaders.
“I am proud to say that the Catholic Church in Africa is the leading provider of quality education for all, ensuring to the best of its possibilities that no woman or girl would be left unschooled, preparing them to become dignified agents of their own personal flourishing and active protagonists in building strong families and peaceful societies.”
Women in leadership positions are especially helpful to those who have been victims of rape or violence, he said. Some find it easier to trust organizations run by women, many of whom are religious sisters or nuns, than men.
Still, it is difficult for many women to “emancipate themselves” from abuse and exclusion, especially in areas of conflict where rape is used as a weapon of war, or where women are coerced into marriage, conversion or abortions.
“Instead of being eradicated, some of these acts of violence have re-emerged in even crueler forms, constituting some of the most horrendous violations of human rights,” he said.
The U.N. Security Council and all governments have a particular obligation to “put an end to these barbaric acts.”