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PRESS RELEASE: “Women leaders: Towards a brighter future”


Powerful voices from around the world are gathering in Rome on 6 March 2024 to highlight how critical women’s leadership is to tackling the many global challenges we face.

To mark International Women’s Day 2024, Caritas Internationalis and the Australian and British Embassies to the Holy See have joined forces to bring together high- profile speakers and experts for a one-day discussion event entitled

Women leaders: Towards a brighter future. The event will take place at the Jesuit Curia in Central Rome on Wednesday 6 March from 9.30 to 5pm CET.

The panel discussions on the day will shed light on the barriers that women continue to face when it comes to participation and decision-making, whilst showcasing success stories of women’s empowerment in various spheres. The keynote address will be delivered by Sr Patricia Murray, Executive Secretary of the International Union of Superiors General. Speakers will include Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Sr Nathalie Becquart, Under-Secretary, General Secretariat of the Synod, and Cristiane Murray, Deputy Director of the Holy See Press Office, women theologians, including Prof Maeve Heaney from the Australian Catholic University and Dr Nontando Hadebe from the St Augustine College of South Africa, women leading organisations at the grassroots and beyond, including Patricia Adèle Félicité, Secretary General of Caritas Ile Maurice, Sr Maria Nirmalini AC, National President of the Conference of Religious India, Sr Espérance Bamiryio, leading health training expert with experience in South Sudan, and Sr Ruperta Palacios Silva, a Mexico-based community coordinator working on the ground with vulnerable women and girls of African descent.

Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, said

“Women and girls – in their diversity – are central to the transformative change we need to address the challenges facing our world today. Their knowledge and experiences are indispensable, including at the leadership level. The event we are co-hosting on 6 March will showcase the incredible efforts of women leaders - both within the Catholic Church and broader society - from around the world, but also identify ongoing barriers and challenges. It is an example of the Australian Government’s steadfast commitment to building a world where all people can reach and contribute their potential, regardless of their gender. By supporting and encouraging women leaders we hope to shape a brighter future.”


Christopher Trott, British Ambassador to the Holy See, said:

“Women are critical agents for building a better future and responding to pressing global issues the world is facing today. The British government is working to tackle global gender inequality at every opportunity, including educating and empowering women. To build a fairer, freer, safer, wealthier, and greener world, where everyone benefits and no one is left behind, women and girls must remain at the heart of our efforts. This includes amplifying

the diverse voices, knowledge and leadership of women in church and society. This conference will hear of the extraordinary contribution of women religious and lay women on the ground. I look forward to learning what has worked well and been achieved so far, and how we can work together and find ways in which the challenges facing women can be addressed.”

Alistair Dutton, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, said:

“Poverty, violence and lack of access to education and basic services create a culture that excludes women. Caritas’s work at the grassroots in over 200 countries and territories shows that women’s empowerment, education and participation in leadership and decision-making at all levels makes a concrete contribution to removing cultural, political and institutional barriers and facilitates a culture of encounter in which women’s experiences and expertise are valued, and a brighter future is built.”

For more information, enclosed is the full programme and speakers’ biographical notes.

Note for editors:

-   There will be two media points at 12:30 and 15:30 hrs for interviews with speakers who wish to be interviewed.
-   For accreditations and interview requests, please contact Simona Prete, Senior Policy and Communications Officer, British Embassy to the Holy See (Simona.Prete@fcdo.gov.uk; WhatsApp +39 335 75 16848)