An international seminar Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity titled Women and Work took place on the 4th and 5th of Dec in Rome. About a hundred participants from across the globe gathered to discuss the challenges professional women face trying to balance the demands between their career and family life.
The conference which marked the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Saint John Paul II’s letter to women, June 29, 1995 explored issues like; what true equality for women looks like in the workplace and the issue of gender pay gap.
Pope Francis who has often spoken on the need to protect the rights of workers, including those of women has described the gender pay gap as “a scandal”.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a telegram ahead of the workshop to the participants on behalf of Pope Francis.
The message expressed the Holy Father’s hope that the symposium would “help to affirm the indispensable role of women in the family and the formation of children,” and “the essential contribution of women workers in the building up of economic structures and a politics worthy of humanity, and identifying concrete suggestions and positive models for the harmonization of work commitments and family needs.”
One of the participants in the workshop, Helen Alvaré, law professor at George Mason University said, “Women have access (to work) in so many parts of the world, not everywhere,” she added, “yet those positions don’t take account of the jobs women prefer. Those jobs are underpaid.”
Helen who is also the founder of the group “Women Speak for Themselves,” pointed to the fact that women have been in the workforce outside the home for decades now, yet, almost nothing has changed. “We don’t just want to have great ideas we want to make them action, “she said.
Archbishop of Taranto, Filippo Santoro, one of the participants in the workshop, stressed on the importance of emphasizing “the richness of the female universe, which is not just for the life of the family but indicated a perspective that is true to for the whole life.” He said, “We see the necessity of women in their condition can work, but not as an alternative of her natural characteristic which is the capacity to form a family,”