1) In Letter to Women, Pope St. John Paul II calls for redesigning existing systems to be more humanizing - and says inclusion of women is what will prompt this to happen

I know of course that simply saying thank you is not enough. Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women's dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Certainly it is no easy task to assign the blame for this, considering the many kinds of cultural conditioning which down the centuries have shaped ways of thinking and acting. And if objective blame, especially in particular historical contexts, has belonged to not just a few members of the Church, for this I am truly sorry. May this regret be transformed, on the part of the whole Church, into a renewed commitment of fidelity to the Gospel vision. When it comes to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself. Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured the dignity which women have always possessed according to God's plan and in his love. As we look to Christ at the end of this Second Millennium, it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has been heard and acted upon?

And what shall we say of the obstacles which in so many parts of the world still keep women from being fully integrated into social, political and economic life? We need only think of how the gift of motherhood is often penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes its very survival to this gift. Certainly, much remains to be done to prevent discrimination against those who have chosen to be wives and mothers. As far as personal rights are concerned, there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic State.

This is a matter of justice but also of necessity. Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serious problems of the future: leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, euthanasia, drugs, health care, the ecology, etc. In all these areas a greater presence of women in society will prove most valuable, for it will help to manifest the contradictions present when society is organized solely according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity, and it will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favours the pro- cesses of humanization which mark the "civilization of love". - Pope St. John Paul II, 1995 (Letter to Women)

2) Women carry the burden of pregnancy in a particular way, and men owe her a kind of ‘debt’

It is the woman who "pays" directly for this shared generation, which literally absorbs the energies of her body and soul. It is therefore necessary that the man be fully aware that in their shared parenthood he owes a special debt to the woman. No programme of "equal rights" between women and men is valid unless it takes this fact fully into account. - Pope St. John Paul II, 1995 (Mulieris Dignitatem)

3) Women demanding better is a good thing

"Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity…..they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons." - Pope John XXIII, 1963 (Pacem in Terris).

4) Injustice against women affects all of us

"Similarly, inadequate consideration for the condition of women helps to create instability in the fabric of society. I think of the exploitation of women who are treated as objects, and of the many ways that a lack of respect is shown for their dignity; I also think —in a different context—of the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms. There can be no illusion of a secure peace until these forms of discrimination are also overcome, since they injure the personal dignity impressed by the Creator upon every human being." - Pope Benedict XVI, 2007 (World Day of Peace)

5) Social policies should combat unjust discrimination and consider the equal dignity of women and men

On a more concrete level, if social policies – in the areas of education, work, family, access to services and civic participation – must combat all unjust sexual discrimination, they must also listen to the aspirations and identify the needs of all. The defence and promotion of equal dignity and common personal values must be harmonized with attentive recognition of the difference and reciprocity between the sexes where this is relevant to the realization of one's humanity, whether male or female. - Pope Benedict XVI, 2004 (On the Collaboration of Men and Women)

6) We are called to address pro-life issues holistically

A radical solidarity with women requires that the underlying causes which make a child unwanted be addressed.” - Saint Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Fourth World Conference on Women of the United Nations, 1995

7) Women working and being involved in society is good

"The growing presence of women in social, economic and political life at the local, national and international levels is thus a very positive development. Women have a full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life, and this right must be affirmed and guaranteed, also, where necessary, through appropriate legislation” - Pope John Paul II, 1995 (World Day of Peace)

8) Work should respect people’s dignity 

What is meant by the word “decent” in regard to work? It means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labour; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one's roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living. - Pope Benedict XVI, 2009 (Caritas in Veritate)

9) Women are called in a particular way to “reconcile people with life”

 I address to women this urgent appeal: "Reconcile people with life". You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self” -  Pope Saint John Paul II, 1995 (Evangelium Vitae)

10) The Pope called for a campaign promoting women’s dignity - which is the mission of FemCatholic 

Such respect (for women) must first and foremost be won through an effective and intelligent campaign for the promotion of women, concentrating on all areas of women's life and beginning with a universal recognition of the dignity of women. Our ability to recognize this dignity, in spite of historical conditioning, comes from the use of reason itself, which is able to understand the law of God written in the heart of every human being. - Pope Saint John Paul II, 1995 (Letter to Women)

11) In 2015 Pope Francis clearly called for the Church to support maternity leave 

May your priorities include special attention to women’s employment, as well as to maternity assistance which must always defend new life and those who serve it daily. Defend women, women’s employment! May insurance for old age, for illness, for accidents in the workplace, never be lacking. May the right to retirement never be lacking, and I would like to highlight: right — retirement is a right! — because this is what it’s about. May you be conscious of the inalienable dignity of each worker, in whose service you work. By supporting income during and after the working period, you contribute to the quality of its commitment as an investment for a life worthy of mankind. - Pope Franics, 2015 (Address to the INPS)

Samantha Povlock

Founder, CEO, and Editor in Chief

Samantha Povlock is the Founder, CEO, and Editor in Chief of FemCatholic. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame with degrees in business and theology, she started her career in Chicago working in consulting and project management. She currently lives in Greater Philadelphia with her husband, Matt, and three kids.

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