Women, crisis and resilience
Webinar to celebrate International Women’s Day
Friday 4th March 2022, 3 pm – 5 pm CET
On March 4, 2022, the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (UMOFC / WUCWO) in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) celebrated International Women's Day with an international conference entitled Women, crisis and resilience which saw the participation of about 400 people connected from 70 countries.
The ecumenical and interreligious event was opened by a message from H. E. Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the PCID. Then women leaders of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, ecumenical and Catholic religious communities intervened to share from their different perspectives and experiences the suffering and discrimination that affect women but above all their creative capacity for renewal and resilience.
In his opening words, Cardinal Ayuso Guixot said: “WUCWO cultivates the best practice of «looking at the world with Marian eyes». This cultivation can unveil Mary as a model for daily resilience. (…) Considering the enduring health crisis of the COVID pandemic, and the escalation of war in the world, particularly in Ukraine, may the lessons and stories learned and shared during this webinar drive resilience to the farthest and darkest corners (…)”.
From the Islamic perspective, Prof. Shahrzad Houshmand, Iranian Theologian, Vice President of the Consulta Femminile of the Pontifical Council for Culture intervened and said: "Resilience draws strength from the soul of every person, woman or man, Eastern or Western. Resilience needs hope, real friends who know their rights”.
Swamini Hamsananda Ghiri, Vice President of the Italian Hindu Union, reported, among many others, the testimony and experience of Ela Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter, during the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.
Mrs. Nadine Iarchy, Chair of the Interfaith and Intercultural Committee of the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) said: “From my Jewish perspective, I have only to look at the history of the Jewish people and I can find many examples of women who took their survival in hand and the survival of the future generation”.
Prof. Isabel Apawo Phiri, Deputy General Secretary of the World Council of Churches stated: “With the joint efforts of everyone, we can thwart the efforts of dehumanized consciences, to realize a world that strengthens resilience and justice; not only for African women burdened by the impact of Covid-19, but for all”.
From the Catholic perspective, Mrs. Mónica Santamarina Noriega, WUCWO Treasurer, presented a summary of the results of the first work of the World Women Observatory, entitled: Impact of Covid-19 on women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
As patrons of the event, the following Ambassadors also intervened in the conference with reflections on women and resilience within the different countries they represent: H.E. Mr Derek Hannon, Ambassador of Ireland to the Holy See; H.E. Ms María Fernanda Silva, Ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See; H.E. Ms Chiara Porro, Ambassador of Australia to the Holy See; H.E. Ms Caroline Gabriela Weijers, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See; H.E. Mr Jorge Mario Eastman, Ambassador of Colombia to the Holy See.
The initiative, because of its interreligious character, gave visibility and expressed solidarity to women of different religions, cultures and areas of the planet, promoting a common and transforming action, typical of social friendship and human brotherhood.
In this occasion, the president of WUCWO, María Lía Zervino, launched the World Women Observatory for Africa, as a gift or tribute to suffering and resilient women, who normally go unnoticed and are "discarded", emphasising the words of Pope Francis in Fratelli tutti: “Indeed, «doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights»”.
The conference is available on YouTube WUCWOUMOFC
Vatican News (in Portuguese)
Vatican News (in Italian)