(ANS – Vatican City) – We publish Pope Francis’ preface to the volume “More Women’s Leadership for a Better World: Caring as the Engine for Our Common Home,” edited by Anna Maria Tarantola, published by “Vita e Pensiero.” The text is the result of joint research of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation and the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (Sacru).
Pope Francis writes:
This book is about women, about their talents, their abilities and skills as well as the inequalities, violence and prejudices that still characterise the female world.
Women’s issues are particularly important to me. I have referred to them in many of my speeches, emphasising how much still must be done to fully empower women. Among other things, I have stated that man and woman “are not equal; one is not superior to the other, no. It is just that man does not bring harmony: it is she who brings that harmony that teaches us to caress, to love tenderly, and who makes of the world something beautiful” (Mass at Santa Marta, 9 February 2017).
We are in great need of harmony to fight injustice, the blind greed that harms people and the environment, unjust and unacceptable war.
This book collects the results of the joint research, promoted by the Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice Foundation and the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities, to which 15 academics from 10 universities in 8 countries offered their contribution, each in his/her field of study.
I appreciate the fact that the topic is approached from a multidisciplinary perspective, since different approaches and analyses allow a broader view of the problems and the search for better solutions. The research highlights the difficulties that women still face in attaining top roles in the world of work and, at the same time, the advantages connected with their greater presence and full enhancement of their role in the domains of economy, politics and society itself.
The Church can also benefit from the valorisation of women: as I said in my speech at the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops of the Pan-Amazon Region in October 2019: “we have not yet understood what the woman signifies in the Church, and we limit ourselves only to the functional aspect […] But the role of women in the Church goes well beyond functionality. And more work must continue on this”.
It is not possible to pursue a better, fairer, more inclusive and fully sustainable world without the contribution of women.
We must work, all together, to open equal opportunities for men and women in every context, to aim for a stable and lasting situation of equality in diversity: the road to women’s affirmation is recent, troubled and, unfortunately, not definitive. Situations like these can easily be reversed.
Women’s thinking is different from men’s, they are more attentive to protecting the environment, their gaze is not turned to the past but to the future. Women know that they give birth in pain to achieve a great joy: to give life and open vast, new horizons. That is why women want peace, always.
Women know how to express both strength and tenderness, they are good, qualified, prepared, they know how to inspire new generations (not only their children). It is right for them to be able to express these skills in every sphere, not just within the family, and to be remunerated equally with men for equal roles, commitments and responsibilities. The still existing gaps are a serious injustice.
These gaps, together with prejudice against women, are at the root of violence against women. I have condemned this phenomenon on many occasions; on 22 September 2021, I said that violence against women is an open wound resulting from a patriarchal and macho culture of oppression. We must find the cure to heal this plague and not leave women alone.
The research presented here and the conclusions reached seek to fix the scourge of inequality and, in this way, of violence.
I like to think that if women could enjoy full equality of opportunity, they could contribute substantially to the necessary change towards a world of peace, inclusion, solidarity and integral sustainability.
As I stated on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019, women make the world more beautiful, they protect it and keep it alive. They bring the grace of renewal, the embrace of inclusion and the courage to give themselves to others. Peace, then, is born of women, it rises and is rekindled by the tenderness of mothers. Therefore, the dream of peace becomes reality when we look to women.
It is my belief that, as the research shows, equality must be achieved in diversity. Not equality because women assume male behaviour, but equality because the playing field is open to all players, without differences of gender (and also of colour, religion, culture…). It is what economists call efficient diversity.
It is nice to think of a world where everyone lives in harmony and everyone can see their talents recognised and contribute to a better world.
The ability to care, for example, is undoubtedly a feminine trait that must be expressed not only within the family, but equally and successfully in politics, business, academia and the workplace.
The capacity to care must be expressed by all of us, men and women. Men can also cultivate this capacity in parenting: how beautiful is the family where both parents, mothers and fathers together, take care of their children, help them to grow up healthy, and educate them to respect people and things, to kindness, to mercy, to the protection of creation.
I also like the mention of the importance of education. On the one hand, education is the main way to provide women with the skills and knowledge they need to face the new challenges of the world of work; on the other hand, it is necessary to promote change in the still prevailing patriarchal culture. Unfortunately, even today, some 130 million girls in the world do not go to school. There is no freedom, justice, integral development, democracy and peace without education.