Women's Rights Are Human Rights
Online News Archive of Catholic News Service News Briefs NEWS BRIEFS Mar-29-2012
By Catholic News Service
'Hope in trying times' sets scene for talks on women in church, world
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In what the organizer described as "an experiment in hope in trying times," a prominent theologian and another speaker known for her work in international women's rights told an audience at Georgetown University March 24 that there are reasons to think things can get better for women in the church and in the world. University of Notre Dame theologian M. Cathleen Kaveny and Melanne Verveer, U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, told a symposium sponsored by the Woodstock Theological Center of reasons for hope for women. Verveer, who worked at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops more than 20 years ago, described learning firsthand about the struggles of women around the world through her position at the State Department and through her previous job as chief of staff to then-first lady Hillary Clinton. Speaking at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, Clinton in a keynote address said "this is a time to break the silence" on the many ways women's rights are abused around the world, Verveer said. She cited a litany of injustices to women including killings over inadequate dowries, murders of girl babies, slavery, child marriages, rape as a tool of war and others. The message from Clinton's speech then and the continual theme underlying the creation of Verveer's position at the State Department, which Clinton now heads as secretary, is: "Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights," she said. Verveer said that ideal is far from being realized. Women and children make up the majority of the world's people living in poverty and the majority with limited access to health care. Violence against women is a global problem, she said. But where women are able to take positions of power they become agents of change for improving the lives of other women and others who are usually on the receiving end of grief, she said.