VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar 8) decried violence and prejudice against women and said granting equal pay and opportunities could help create a more peaceful and sustainable world.
In a book preface published by the Vatican News website on International Women's Day, Pope Francis stressed the differences between men and women but called for "equality in diversity" on "a playing field open to all players".
"I like to think that if women could enjoy full equality of opportunity, they could contribute substantially to the necessary change towards a world of peace, inclusion, solidarity and integral sustainability," the pope said.
He also referred briefly to Women's Day at the end of his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, asking the crowd for "an applause for all women, because they deserve it".
Pope Francis has condemned discrimination against women in the past but, like his predecessors, he has ruled out a female clergy. The Catholic Church teaches that only men can become priests because Jesus chose men as his apostles.
"Women's thinking is different from men's," the pope wrote in the preface to a book entitled: More Women's Leadership for a Better World.
"They are more attentive to protecting the environment, their gaze is not turned to the past but to the future," he said.
"Women know that they give birth in pain to achieve a great joy: To give life and open vast, new horizons. That is why women want peace, always."
He said women need to get equal remuneration with men for equal roles and described ongoing pay gaps as "a serious injustice".
The pope condemned the "plague" of violence against women, recalling a speech he delivered in 2021 when he called it "an open wound resulting from a patriarchal and macho culture of oppression".
Francis has appointed several women to managerial roles since he became pope, and said last year that "every time a woman is given a position (of responsibility) in the Vatican, things improve".