this month I would like to tell you why, how and what for we celebrated the International Women's Day in Rome with an ecumenical and interreligious meeting with women leaders from different perspectives: Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, ecumenical and Catholic. We have done this in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the sponsorship of the Embassies to the Holy See of the Netherlands, Austria, the Philippines and Argentina.
Why did WUCWO decide to celebrate the International Women's Day in the year 2020 with an interreligious and ecumenical event under the title “Women Makers of Human Fraternity”? For being faithful to our roots.
WUCWO, faced with the call of the historic text Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb on February 4, 2019, feels urged to respond to this call.
Before the unprecedented Abu Dhabi document, we are urged, also as WUCWO, to assume our responsibility as the only women's organisation recognised by the Catholic Church, as an International Public Association of the Faithful. This makes us commit even more in our service to the Church and the society in which we live.
It is the faith in God WUCWO's deepest motivation for celebrating this Day with this event. It is the God in whom we believe that drives us from within, taking our minds and hearts so that human fraternity is transformed more and more into concrete actions.
How has WUCWO celebrated the International Women's Day this year?
We have celebrated it by focusing, with women's eyes, on the essential care of the planet and all our fellow citizens, particularly the most vulnerable and discarded. From our common women's perspective, we know that we are particularly capable of:
- watching over our "common home" as the home of our human family;
- overcoming the culture of hatred, violence and war by sowing the culture of mercy, peace and social friendship;
- reaching out to those who are in need, living in the existential peripheries as a result of poverty, discrimination, persecution and ideologies that are often the consequence of erroneous religious interpretations and other reasons, through listening, being close to them, and searching together and creatively for alternatives;
- cultivating the encounter and maternal accompaniment of minors and suffering families, of unborn children and the elderly and dying, of victims of human trafficking, injustice and forced migration, of refugees and of so many others, thanks to our special resilience, that is, our capacity to face crises and to overcome changes;
- reacting, with courage and without losing our tenderness, to those who manage policies of fundamentalism and division typical of systems of insatiable profit and false religious justifications of conflicts at the political level;
- asserting our equal rights in relation to men, in order to proceed co-responsibly in the construction of a more just and fraternal society, contributing our adequate preparation and experience, united with our feminine nature.
We have chosen to celebrate “our Day” in a collaborative way, talking with women leaders in their respective faith communities. We gave a testimony of harmony and respect for the diversity that characterises us. We also appreciated the charismas and contributions of each of our traditions and beliefs. We believe that the time has come for women to unite and raise their voices, recognising the positive advances of our current civilization and all that remains to be done.
This celebration was not an isolated event but a milestone in our common journey. Together, as women of faith, we have started a process based on this sort of “Magna Carta” for the construction of a more just and inclusive world, not as a final stage, but as a starting point for a work of mutual cooperation and new possibilities of action. A starting point that inspires us, that allows us to open doors to travel new paths by combining criteria and efforts with so many others already committed to peaceful coexistence through dialogue and mutual understanding. There is still much to be developed.
What did we held this meeting for, offering a joint final statement on Women Makers of Human Fraternity as a simple and meaningful gesture?
To summarise what we have prayed, discerned, written and manifested to each other, among women of different continents and cultures. And we committed ourselves publicly, each one from her faith, to the deepening, the dissemination and the development of the potentialities that the document offers us.
Our intent was to give a common witness that will be a step towards the educational alliance promoted by Pope Francis, the Global Compact in Education, to create a network that will ensure children and young people the conditions necessary for their harmonious personal development and their inclusion in a more welcoming and humane society. For every change, an educational path is necessary.
Finally, I would like to summon you to join this covenant for the construction of authentic peace and fraternal coexistence. I strongly recommend the reading and dissemination of the Document on Human Fraternity.
Before finishing this message, I would like to raise a prayer for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, for the health professionals who care for the sick, and for the latters and their families. I ask Our Lady to free all countries from this epidemic.
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO's President General