Motherhood and Work are Allies, Not Enemies
An emerging new feminist movement of ecumenical character says yes to both these questions, without advocating that women try to become like men, as some earlier feminists suggested.
ROME, JUNE 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Can a woman fulfill simultaneously
her role as mother and worker? Is society prepared to
support, or at least not put obstacles, in the working
career of women with a family?
An emerging new feminist
movement of ecumenical character says yes to both these questions,
without advocating that women try to become like men, as
some earlier feminists suggested.
At a congress entitled "Women and
Cultures: In the Perspective of a New Feminism," organized last
month by the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome, the
participants confirmed their commitment to go forward with a movement
of feminine emancipation that does not cancel the differences between
the sexes, but is directed to the fulfillment of the
"feminine nature" in all its peculiarities.
|Marie-Thèrése Avemeka, Minister for the Integration of Women in Development in the Republic of the Congo|
The speakers included a
Norwegian professor, a Congolese government aide, a Georgian princess, an
American mothers´ advocate, and an Italian astrophysicist.
According to professor
Janne Haaland Matlary, mother of four and the Norwegian Foreign
Affairs Vice Minister from 1997-2000, "a happy and fulfilled life
for a woman consists of having the possibility to share
her time between the family, work and politics."
that "to be a father or mother is a very
profound experience from the existential point of view. It is
not simply a role. Women are privileged to able to
transmit life, which is the way human beings come closest
to creation. This participation in creation -- ´for nine months
within you´ -- and after, for the rest of life
--´outside of you´ -- makes you never stop being a
mother; therefore, it is of fundamental importance for a woman."
The condition of mother, woman and worker is not just
true in the developed world; it seems to be even
more intense for women in developing countries. Marie-Therese Avemeka, Minister
for the Integration of Women in Development in the Republic
of the Congo, said that women in Africa joyfully live
their dimension of mother, woman and worker, and they even
have a role in political life.
Avemeka said proudly that
"as mother and wife, the woman is the pillar of
the family; on her depend the securing of food, and
survival, and the social balance" of the family.
traditional African society, a woman has the double task of
production and reproduction. As homemaker, she is responsible for domestic
work, the care of children, and the kitchen. She is
also responsible for agricultural production and craftsmanship, as well as
the transformation and sale of manufactured products. Tradition reserves to
women the sale and trade in agricultural products and crafts,
which often become small, lucrative businesses.
|Enola Aird, founder of The Motherhood Project of the U.S. Institute for American Values|
The rediscovery of motherhood,
as the fundamental task to educate children to "be fully
human," was underlined both by Enola Aird, founder of The
Motherhood Project of the U.S. Institute for American Values, and
Emilia Palladino, astrophysicist.
The scientist pointed out the error of
blindly imitating men and said that even in the field
of scientific research, a woman must be fully a woman
and, if applicable, a mother.
In areas that man cannot
reach, "for example, care of the work environment, care in
the widest sense," woman has a role.
"Not only does
she have the capacity, but also the right nature to
do it," Palladino said. "For example, a woman suffers if
the work environment is strictly professional, if there is no
communication among people, if there is only talk of work.
In general, a woman suffers more readily than a man;
a man is less interested in these things."
added, "in cooperating to create a welcoming atmosphere at work,
interested in people and not just in work, a woman
creates an ambience that is much more efficient and alive."
Woman´s nature is surprising not only in the family and
the world of business and science, but also in that
of culture. When French writer Elizabeth Bourgois spoke, she recounted
that "I was at a book fair to sign my
books. A 16- or 17-year-old girl came up to me
and asked, raising an accusatory finger: ´Are you Elizabeth Bourgois?´
Surprised, I just stared at her. She started looking through
a line of books and picked out the novel ´Les
chaussons par la fenêtre´ (´The Bootees Through the Window´). ´This
book speaks about abortion. I gave it to a friend
who wanted an abortion and she decided to have the
child. Ciao!´ And she left.
"I don´t think she realized
the impact of her words. At that moment I understood
the extent of my task: A simple story can allow
a child to live. It is awesome!"