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Motherhood and Work are Allies, Not Enemies
| APOSTOLATE | NEWS
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
Marie-Thèrése Avemeka,
Marie-Thèrése Avemeka, Minister for the Integration of Women in Development in the Republic of the Congo
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.

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."

She said 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.

Indeed, in 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
Enola Aird
Enola Aird, founder of The Motherhood Project of the U.S. Institute for American Values
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.

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."

"Thus," she 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!"


PUBLICATION DATE: 2001-10-11


 
 

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