March 8th marks International Women's Day. It's a time to recognize the contributions women make to society and also a time to see what improvements are needed.
So, precisely to highlight the issue, the Holy See addressed the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York. There, a Vatican delegation talked about the rights of women who live in rural areas...rights that unfortunately are often ignored.
During the speech, the delegation said these women often work long hours, which usually go unpaid. They have poor nutrition, lack access to water, healthcare and are exposed to violence, even when pregnant.
The Vatican's message was echoed by Chile's former president Michelle Bachelet, who now serves as the executive director of UN Women.
Michelle Bachelet - UN Women, Executive Director
“They are farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders and their contributions sustain the families, communities, nations and all of us. Yet, they face some of the worst inequities in access to social services and land and other productive assets.”
Even though the challenges may seem overwhelming the Vatican delegation says they must be addressed. Worldwide, one in every four people are women or girls who live in rural areas. The Holy See said these challenges give rise to opportunities, where women's dignity and potential can be fully respected.
During the month of March, the Pope's prayer intention are for women, so that their contributions to society are recognized worldwide.