MANILA — Two of the top women leaders in the peace process extolled Pope Francis’ call for greater women participation and representation in society when he spoke to the Filipino youth at the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday, January 18.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles and Government of the Philippines chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer both said that they “love the pope” especially for championing the rights of women.
“Talagang I love this pope (I really love this pope)! It is so heartening that, in his attention to the periphery, he did not miss the women,” Deles said. “It’s so important that he notes that men are a factor in the problem.”
In his speech during the meeting with Filipino youth, Pope Francis noted the lack of women representation. “Women have much to tell us in today’s society. Sometimes, we are too machistas (chauvinistic) and we don’t allow enough space for women,” the pontiff said.
“Women can see things from a different angle [from] us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions we men are unable to understand,” Pope Francis added, responding to 12-year old Glyzelle Palomar, a street kid who related how her life has been exposed to the ills of drugs and prostitution.
Coronel-Ferrer noted Pope Francis’ compassion. “He is with us in our struggle for peace and justice—in Mindanao, in our everyday life, among the poor and dispossessed in our society.”
“Women and girls are affected by poverty, drugs, and prostitution, as well as by war, in distinct ways,” Coronel-Ferrer pointed out. “Pope Francis thus poignantly noted the different perspectives that women and girls can offer.”
“The young girl’s question was heartbreaking,” she said. “But the question is really addressed to us: Why do we let these things happen?”
“Women tend to ask many of the ‘why’ questions about life upfront,” Coronel-Ferrer said. “Amazing how a young girl said it best. Even more amazing was how the Pope built on the moment to make a pitch for more women’s participation in both societal and spiritual affairs.”
“The Pope knows that justice and peace for women and girls have to be spelled out in ways that will be equally meaningful to the other half of humankind,” said Coronel-Ferrer.