In March 2001, the WUCWO General Assembly was held in Rome (Italy) on the theme «The Prophetic Mission of Women». More than 750 women were present representing all continents. At the dawn of the new Millennium WUCWO women gave a strong message of hope. Priorities voted: Education, Violence against women, and human rights.
Maria Eugenia Díaz de Pfennich (Mexico) was reelected President General.
- WUCWO held its General Assembly in Arlington, USA, from 31 May to 7 June 2016. It was attended by 600 women from 44 countries, and its central theme was: "Women peacemakers: united in faith and action," "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Mt 5:9). It aimed at uniting efforts in a world where justice, peace and solidarity are becoming increasingly absent. Mrs. Karen Hurley was appointed President General of WUCWO for the period 2006-2010.
The priority for the four-year period was: Building a culture of peace with special attention to education and the elimination of poverty. The Resolutions adopted: 1) Day of Prayer for Sexual Abuse; 2) Education (children); 3) Children at Risk; 4) Commitment to Democracy; 5) Women Save the Environment; 6) Global Solidarity; 7) HIV/AIDS; 8) Death Penalty; 9) Campaign against the Manufacture, Stockpiling and Sale of Arms; 10) Improving the Economic Status of Women; 11) The Family; 12) Ending Child Trafficking.
- WUCWO, as a member of FAO, was part of the Alliance against Hunger international campaign and called on all its organisations to participate in the march against hunger that was scheduled in many countries on 21 May 2006.
- WUCWO was invited to participate in the Eighth World Conference of Religions for Peace in August in Kyoto, Japan. Four members of the WUCWO Board attended it, and the WUCWO President General was appointed Co-President of the World Council of Religions for Peace. "Confronting Violence and Enhancing Shared Security" was the theme of this event. It was emphasised that the transformation of conflicts into dialogues that can help overcoming them can emerge from networks of Religions for Peace.
- In November, the first Board meeting was held in Rome. During the meeting, the 2006-2010 Work Plan was drawn up, whose programme was: 2006/7: Respect for Human Dignity: Alleviating Poverty and HIV/AIDS and Social Responsibility: Supporting Children and the Family; 2008: Regional Conferences: Blessed are the Peacemakers, united in Faith and Action. Mid-term review; 2009: Human Development: Working for Peace and Justice; 2010: WUCWO Centennial Celebration and General Assembly.
- The Pontifical Council for the Laity confirmed WUCWO as an International Public Association of the Faithful in conformity with the canonical norms in force, according to canons 298-320 and 327-329 of the Code of Canon Law. This new juridical form formalised that WUCWO speaks and acts in the name of the Church, while opening spaces for the voice of women in the Church.
- WUCWO held its first virtual meeting of the Executive Committee; holding virtual meeting is a resource that will speed up time for consultations, exchanges, decision-making and save money without losing effectiveness.
- The WUCWO Europe Region was invited to send four delegates to participate in the Third European Ecumenical Assembly held in Sibiu, Romania, in September. A pilgrimage began in Rome in January 2006, went on with regional and local events, advanced with the Assembly in Wittenberg, Germany, and continued in Sibiu. Its commitment guidelines were: Rediscover the way: reconciliation among European Christians, renewal and unity at the local level, rediscover the gift of light that the Gospel of Christ represents, deepen in it: Unity, Spirituality, Religions, Europe, Migrations, Creation, Justice and Peace. Invitation to pray and work for the unity of all Christians. It is a WUCWO that goes to meet the brothers and commits itself to Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue.
To rediscover the way: reconciliation between European Christians, renewal and unity at the local level, to rediscover the gift of light that the Gospel of Christ represents, to deepen in Unity, Spirituality, Religions, Europe, Migrations, Creation, Justice and Peace. Invitation to pray and work for the unity of all Christians. It is a WUCWO that reaches out to the brothers and commits itself to Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue.
- The WUCWO Committee participated in the international conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II on the "Dignity and Vocation of Women" (Mulieris dignitatem), organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which took place from 6 to 9 February 2008. The theme chosen was: "Woman and Man: The Whole of Creation." It was attended by 250 women from 49 countries of the world. One of the fruits of this conference was the new website of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. One of the objectives of the website was to delve deeper into the anthropological questions stemming from the original unity of the person, on which the reciprocal relationship between man and woman is based. The website also set out to deal with women who suffer in too many parts of the world, whose dignity and rights are not recognised and who suffer the consequences of violence, poverty, and marginalisation.
- YEAR OF WUCWO REGIONAL CONFERENCES:
AFRICA REGION: From 6 to 11 October 2008, held in Hartbeespoort, South Africa. The chosen theme was: "The participation of women in building of a culture of peace, locally and globally" - "Women peacemakers united in faith and action" - "Blessed are those who work for peace" (Mt 5:9). The sub-themes were: 1) Building a culture of peace in families, communities, schools and the environment; 2) HIV/AIDS pandemic, infected and affected people and the women of Africa; 3) Eradication of poverty; economic empowerment within the reach of village women. The meeting sought to encourage new ways of promoting the dignity and honour of people, defending their rights and alleviating the difficult situations they are going through.
EUROPE REGION: It was held in Verona, Italy, from 3 to 7 September 2008. The selected theme was: "Let us free women from trafficking." Its two main objectives were: 1) To offer a space for meeting, dialogue and debate between WUCWO member organisations and open to other NGOs not belonging to WUCWO and from countries with which there were no previous links, in order to exchange experiences and make WUCWO visible; 2) To delve into the theme of the fight against human trafficking, included in the resolutions of the General Assembly held in Arlington in 2006.
NORTH AMERICA REGION: The Regional Conference was held in Winnipeg, Canada. Its theme was: "Women as peacemakers, loving one another." It was attended by 400 women from the U.S. and Canada.
ASIA-PACIFIC REGION: It was held in Seoul, Korea, from 26 to 31 October 2008. Its theme was: "Women builders of peace, united in faith and action." At the end of the Regional Conference, the following resolution was adopted: To participate in legislative processes that tend to promote the "culture of life" and to appeal to the government to conclude bilateral agreements in order to protect the rights of migrant workers; to raise awareness about the rights and dignity of women and to work for a positive change in men's attitudes towards women; to accompany the efforts made by women to collaborate in peace negotiations and post-conflict processes; to expand their capacity for compassion from the family to the local community and to society, including migrants and dysfunctional families.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGION: It took place in Mexico City, from 1 to 5 October 2008, with the theme: "Women of faith and hope, disciples and missionaries of peace.” It was attended by 150 women from 18 countries of the region, the USA and Europe. Its general objective was to renew and deepen the commitment of Catholic women in Latin America and the Caribbean to evangelisation and the construction of a culture of peace based on respect, justice, equity and solidarity. Usingt the see, judge, act method, they started with an analysis of the reality of Latin America and the Caribbean in relation to peace. In the judge part, the concept of peace was delved into by incorporating the evangelical teaching of it, the Magisterium of the Church, Mulieris Dignitatem and the final Document of Aparecida. In the act part, the importance of educating oneself for peace was promoted: dialogue for peace; conflict resolution; male-female communication; in the family; in our organisations; ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue; promoting the defence of human rights and the corresponding duties; developing formation and training programmes for women that allow them to develop and be able to compete positively in the world of work and especially programmes of support for socially-marginalised women. In addition, the link between related organisations was encouraged, to share experience and to carry out common projects in favour of the culture of peace, of women and the family.
- WUCWO participated in the Congress of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the occasion of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Populorum Progressio.
In early 2019, WUCWO President General, the Secretary General and some members of the Executive Committee travelled to Israel as a visit/pilgrimage before the General Assembly of WUCWO’s centenary, which took place from 5 to 11 October 2010, whereas the pilgrimage to Galilee was from 12 to 14 October. Contacts were made to combine the organisational and pilgrimage part of the event, which would be held at the Notre Dame Center. They received the same message in Israel as in Palestine: the urgent need of the Christians living there to count on the support and strength of the women of the world to help them in their difficulties. This is a challenge that WUCWO did not shirk and to which it committed itself to respond. On the other hand, as a result of this trip, the motto of the General Assembly was defined: "You will be my witnesses."
- WUCWO in the United States undertook the "One Hundred Years of Faith, Hope and Charity" Donation Campaign to provide resources that will allow WUCWO's mission to continue in the future. It was requested that the campaign be publicised; since the Canadian Endowment Fund was set up, only the interests from the capital of the Endowment Fund were used.
- From 20 to 21 March, the 1st International Conference was held in Rome under the title: "Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights." It was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with the collaboration of the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family (WWALF), the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations (WUCWO) and other associations, in response to the call presented by Pope John Paul II, and mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI in his inaugural message: "of a new feminism, which has the power to transform culture, influencing it with resolute respect for life" (cf. Evangelium vitae, 98-99).
- From 10 to 12 August, WUCWO participated in the 5th World Congress for the Family in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where it had the opportunity to present itself to representatives of 63 nations. Emphasis was placed on the family founded on love, equality and respect, not on power and privilege.
- WUCWO sent a letter, signed by its President General, to the UN (23 November 2009) informing that WUCWO would reveal ambiguous language used on issues such as "gender, reproductive health, choice or rights" and urging immediate actions to eradicate violence against women of all ages and social status and to promote respect for their dignity.
- WUCWO was celebrating: 2010 was the year of the celebration of the hundred years of existence and the holding of the General Assembly of the Centenary in Jerusalem, which was lived with gratitude and joy. Thank you to the Lord for accompanying and supporting us and to all the people who made possible the continuity of the commitment assumed in relation to the promotion of women, their evangelising task and their participation together with men in the construction of the temporal reality. Under the motto, "You will be my witnesses," and with an assistance of more than 500 people, it took place in the Holy Land, with Maria Giovanna Ruggieri being elected President General of WUCWO. Days of prayer, study, reflection, exchanges, evaluation of what has been accomplished were shared, and lines of action were set for the four-year period, as reflected in the Final Declaration of the Assembly: "...we reiterate that the dignity, value and “genius” of women should be universally recognised, and that the importance of intergenerational relationships and the involvement of youth, and the cultural and theological contributions of women be supported and recognised for the attainment of a more humane, just and compatible society. " The corollary of the Centenary Assembly was the pilgrimage to Galilee, lived with devotion and joy, following in the footsteps of the Lord and listening to his words: "you will be my witnesses."
The agreed priority was: "Love in action." Resolutions: 1) End to the use of information technology in the sexual exploitation of children; 2) Promote a covenant between human beings and the environment; 3) Rescue4 the children of the street; 4) Campaign for a culture of life; 5) Work for to abolish forced marriage; 6) Strengthen training of Catholic leaders; 7) Defend and support migrants; 8) Commit to ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue; 9) Produce a statistical evaluation of poverty according to sex; 10) Prevent inappropriate sexualisation of children; 11) Mobilise to halt infanticide; 12) Reaffirm the family unit. The Centenary Assembly was an exceptional personal and group experience in which, in an atmosphere of fraternal living together, the commitment of fidelity to the Lord was renewed, based on a mobilising faith, a working hope and a love made action.
- WUCWO was a member of the Vatican NGO Forum in Rome, which brought together 23 NGOs working especially on social and family issues. The main objective was to offer an interactive space, priority areas and to favour interaction. It was a way to foster mutual knowledge and synergy with the Holy See and its representatives and to improve the Christian message in public debate.
- On the occasion of the Synod of Bishops which would deal with the theme "The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith," WUCWO, as a member of the Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs, was invited to contribute reflections on it. A synthesis of the work done was sent to the Secretariat of State for the preparation of the Synod.
- As a co-host of the First International Congress on the Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, WUCWO was invited this year by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to co-organise the Continental Conference to be held in Europe together with the Pontifical Councils for the Family and for the Laity on the theme of education and formation of women. The theme of the Conference was closely related to Resolution No. 6 voted at the Centenary General Assembly: "Strengthening training of Catholic leaders."
- A new Ecclesiastical Assistant was appointed to WUCWO, Father Gerard Whelan, SJ, who served as pastor in Nairobi, Kenya, for several years and is the author of many publications. He was professor of Practical Theology and Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a member of the International Academy of Practical Theology and editor of books.
- In Paris, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO, Msgr Follo prepared a Congress on the dignity of women. He requested the collaboration of WUCWO for this event. The international representatives of WUCWO drew up a questionnaire, which was sent to WUCWO organisations as a basis for work, in order to show the contribution that Catholic women make to human development through attention to culture, education and health.
- At the Board meeting held in Rome in May 2011, María Lía Zervino, Servidora, member of Asociación Argentina de Cultura, was co-opted and appointed editor of Women’s Voice. She carried out part of her pastoral work in the Department of Social Communication of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, researched and taught in Argentina, specialised in Pastoral Communication in Rome, authored articles and edited two magazines. Previously, the editor of Women’s Voice was Brenda Finlayson, whom WUCWO thanks for her dedication, commitment and responsible work in the exercise of this activity.
- In June, an important world meeting took place, the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development, known as "Rio+20," in which WUCWO was represented by Rosaline Menga, Regional Vice President for Africa, and Mariana Vanyay from Argentine Catholic Action. The fundamental theme dealt with natural and human ecology. The dignity of the person is the starting point for the achievement of a sustainable world and women should have their leadership in this field.
- The VII World Meeting of the Family was held in Milan, Italy, from May 27 to June 4, with the theme: "Family, Work and Celebration." WUCWO participated in the event and had a special stand.
- ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL CONFERENCE: The Asia-Pacific Regional Conference was held in the Philippines from 3 to 8 March. It was attended by members of the Catholic Women's League of Australia and participants from other Asia Pacific countries, and a large number of members of the Catholic Women's League of the Philippines. The theme was "Love in Action. Education for Women.” The importance of a correct perspective and education based on the Culture of Life, to improve society in general and the human person in particular, was stressed, as well as the importance of renewal, specifically through education, in order to train women to respond to modern challenges.
The Conferences of the other four Regions were held in 2013.
- 2012 was the year of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. WUCWO was in tune with the dream expressed by the Pope: the launching of a New Evangelization for the propagation of the Faith. The Holy Father also recalled the active and influential role of WUCWO in the Vatican Council, especially through the participation of its then President General, Pilar Bellosillo.
- The annual meeting of the WUCWO Board took place in Rome from 8 to 11 October, so as to participate in the Opening of the Synod for the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith (October 7) and the inauguration of the Year of Faith (October 11). Two Masses were celebrated in St. Peter's Square, which were attended by the WUCWO Board Members: faithful from all over the world were present at this historic moment in the life of the Church.
- A new website was launched, with an open possibility to contributions. It contained events and activities of member organisations, reports, photo gallery, and many more sections.
- Pope Benedict XVI made his resignation effective. As María Lía Zervino, Servidora, said in her editorial (Women’s Voice No. 30): “The Pope who knew how to unite love and the truth […] The Pope who delivered to the end […] The Pope of unfamiliar gestures […] Whoever had the privilege of looking at him closely would have observed the transparency and goodness of his look, the timid smile and the sensibility of his hands; all in a Pope that was not only a father but also a mother.”
- The Papacy of Pope Francis began. WUCWO welcomed him through the words of our editor: “WUCWO welcomes the new Pope with open arms, mind and heart, in order to be able, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola used to say: "to feel with the Church." A New Evangelization, led by a new Supreme Pontiff, in the Year of Faith will undoubtedly mean a flood of graces for our communities and for humanity as a whole.” As the President General, Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, said: “This Year of Faith has received an extraordinary gift with the election of Pope Francis. Every day he has given something to encourage, support our commitment both in the Church and in the world” (Women’s Voice No. 31).
- REGIONAL CONFERENCES:
AFRICA REGION: It was held in Abuja, Nigeria, in early February, and was attended by some 300 women from nine countries in the region. The theme chosen was "Love in Action and the Role of Women in Putting Love into Action." The theme was delved into in the light of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Africae munus, with a special focus on mothers and women leaders as agents of change in Africa. The commitment assumed by the participants was to study and make others aware of the teachings of the Church, so that they can be "authentic servants of the Word of God."
EUROPE REGION: It was held in Leeds, United Kingdom, from 5 to 11 September, with the motto: "Respect-Me-You-Who?". Ten member organisations from seven countries of the region participated. Topics such as Ecumenism and Relations between Religions, focused on respect for others; Evangelisation, based on homilies preached by Pope Francis in Santa Marta, in which he insisted on the nucleus of our faith: "Holiness of life" and "The power of prayer", were dealt with among others. The commitment was strengthened in order to be more proactive in Interreligious and Ecumenical Dialogue, to defend the sanctity of life, to renew with greater fervour the responsibility and duty to evangelise, and to work with respect for all.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGION: It was held in Mexico from 8 to 12 April and the theme was: "Trafficking in Persons. Our challenge: to raise awareness, prevent and act." More than 120 people from nearly 30 organisations from 13 countries participated in the event. The objective was to raise awareness and train lay people, religious and priests, as well as organisations and parish communities for their active participation in the prevention and assistance of victims of human trafficking and to demand from the authorities the fulfilment of their duties in this matter. Catholic organisations, organisations of other religious creeds and civil ones that deal with this problem were invited to participate in it, in order to exchange experiences and seek common ways of action.
NORTH AMERICA REGION: It was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, on September 29-30, with the participation of 176 women and spiritual advisors as well. The theme was: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Poverty, violence, human trafficking and increased support for migrants were the basis of the presentations, prayers and discussions at the Conference.
- In Women’s Voice No. 30, the first appearance of the magazine in 2002 was recalled and thanks were extended to the pioneers who made that possible: Gillian Badcock, WUCWO Secretary General (1996-2009), and Brenda Finlayson, editor of the magazine in those years, as well as all those who contributed and collaborated during those years. It was also reported that the layout had been modernised and new sections had been added. In addition, the WUCWO website was redesigned, so as to show a new dynamism; its format and content were also renewed in order to make it more interesting and attractive.
- WUCWO convened its organisations to celebrate the International Days, which provided an opportunity to raise awareness of important social issues: 8 March, International Women's Day; 15 May, International Family Day; 1 June, World Mother and Father's Day; 4 June, International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. All these celebrations were linked to WUCWO's priorities for this mandate.
- WUCWO was represented at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013. This year's priority was: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. WUCWO contributed a written statement.
- WUCWO thanked outgoing Secretary General Lilian Stevenson for her enormous commitment and dedication to her duties at WUCWO. She would still be a representative at the Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs, delegated by the President General.
- On 31 July 2013, the President General, Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, on behalf of WUCWO, sent a letter to His Holiness Pope Francis thanking him for the "reflections he is offering to women." In addition, she committed to a growing action from WUCWO "so that women feel and are recognised as living stones of the ecclesial community and as protagonists of development and change in the world..." and to participate in the elaboration of the "Theology of Women," as the Pope himself indicated.
- During the WUCWO Board meeting (October 20-22, 2013), María Lía Zervino, Servidora, who had been serving as editor of Women’s Voice, took over the position of WUCWO Secretary General.
- WUCWO held the Conference of Women from the Middle East in Amman, Jordan, from 24-27 October, in collaboration with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the International Forum for Catholic Action (IFCA). The theme was: "Women Believers at the Service of LIFE, DIGNITY and the COMMON WELLBEING." The objective was to take steps to approach and be aware of the problems and difficulties of Middle Eastern women. With this, WUCWO broadened its gaze and commitment to other areas in order to extend its reach and accompany and attend to the problems of the women of the region who - often basically by themselves - make strenuous efforts to deal with them, as they live in a situation of violence and religious confrontations, which break the daily coexistence and development of the countries. It was the first step in the commitment to work for a culture of peace, dialogue and justice that allows for a new bond based on respect and collaboration between men and women of all faiths and countries. The possibility of being joined by any organisation from that region was left open.
- Work was intensified to address human trafficking. To that end, WUCWO participated in the conferences organised by the Academy of Sciences of the Holy See in November.
- The WUCWO General Assembly was held in Fatima, Portugal, from 22 to 27 October, with the motto: "Women of WUCWO, sowers of hope" ("I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit" John 15:16). Maria Giovanna Ruggieri was re-elected President General of WUCWO for the period 2014-2018. The priority voted for the quadrennium was: "Hope in action in the service of family, youth and the suffering of the world." The Resolutions approved were: 1. Family; 2. Human Trafficking; 3. Dialogue for peace and tolerance; 4. Addiction prevention for a life with a future; 5. Prevention and fight against corruption; 6. Right to have access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
- On the occasion of the General Assembly in Fatima, for the first time a special edition of Women’s Voice (No. 35) was realised in a bigger size, in colours and with informative articles on WUCWO, the Regions and other articles with relevant events of the four-year period.
- In February 2014 the WUCWO headquarters was moved to 76, rue des Saints Pères, Paris, France. One year later that office was closed. WUCWO's legal seat remained in Paris, at 38, Rue Notre Dames des Champs. The administrative seat began to operate in Rome, Italy, in an office given to the President General by Italian Catholic Action, for the duration of the PG’s mandate, in Via della Conciliazione, 1. The archives remained in the office of Action Catholique des Femmes, where are generously cared for.
- WUCWO asked its member organisations for responses to the Synod Questionnaire in preparation for the next Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation." Many WUCWO organisations from all the five regions completed the questionnaire. A summary of the work done was given to the Secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri; names of women, married couples and women theologians from different parts of the world were proposed so that they could participate in the Synod.
- Together with other organisations, WUCWO launched the campaign entitled "One Minute for Peace" to accompany the Holy Father in the prayer meeting for peace with the presidents of Israel and Palestine, which took place on 8 June in the Vatican.
- To the end of tackling human trafficking, WUCWO participated in the biannual meeting convened by Caritas Internationalis and become an official member of COATNET (Christian Organisations Against Trafficking Network) thus beginning a path of reciprocal strengthening to address this scourge.
- WUCWO continued to disseminate its actions and projects in the programme "Mujeres: semillas de Esperanza" (Women: Seeds of Hope), which was broadcast weekly by Vatican radio in Spanish.
- Throughout the year, activities multiplied, such as the increase of institutional circulars for the Boars and the Member Organisations and visits to them; the participation of the President General and the Secretary General in WUCWO meetings to present the General Assembly; hearings with authorities of different Dicasteries, Ambassadors, and authorities of different organisations. We participated in meetings related to the fight against human trafficking and collaborated in the preparation of some of them.
- WUCWO, with the "seeds" received at the General Assembly in Fatima, called its members to "go forth", as Pope Francis suggests, to be "sowers of hope" in the different areas of their concern: WUCWO was revived in Fatima and got ready to intensify its commitment to contribute to responding to the challenges of the present by being sign and instrument of hope.
- At the Board meeting in April 2015, Virginia Rivero Lozada, Board Member for Venezuela, was appointed editor of the magazine Women’s Voice. It was approved that the next General Assembly 2018-2022 be held in the Republic of Senegal, being this the first General Assembly to be held on the African continent in this millennium.
- WUCWO was invited to organise, together with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the World Alliance for Life and Family (WWALF), the International Women's Conference for the post-2015 development agenda: The Challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which was held in Rome from 22 to 24 May 2015. It was an opportunity to reflect on the SDGs that were being debated at the United Nations in New York. At the end, a document was prepared and sent to Pope Francis, as a contribution of Catholic women towards a world more respectful of human dignity, because it too often turns towards selfish, economic and financial goals, limited to a group of people.
- WUCWO called for a new launch of the "One Minute for Peace" campaign by promoting the proposal of one of its Member Organisations, Argentine Catholic Action, and of IFCA. The proposal was extended to all faiths and people of good will and was made on June 8, one year after the meeting of Pope Francis with the presidents of Israel and Palestine. Unfortunately, the events in the Holy Land, the Middle East and the rest of the world showed violence, wars, persecution and death, which motivated the repetition of the Campaign.
- At the request of the Board, WUCWO had at its disposal a new institutional communication tool in order to improve exchange and mutual enrichment: a periodic newsletter. It differed from Women’s Voice in that it was free, electronic and would only contain short, recent news. It would be useful to share the richness of the work of the organisations so that they in turn know the tasks carried out by WUCWO at the international level and in the universal Church.
- President General Maria Giovanna Ruggieri was invited by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC), to take part in the Women's Consultation Group, composed of outstanding women in the field of culture. At the request of the PCC, the curricula vitae of candidates to form a permanent part of the Group were sent to the Cardinal.
- WUCWO was invited by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to the official presentation of the encyclical of Pope Francisco Laudato Si.
- The radio programme run by WUCWO, which was broadcasted weekly by Vatican Radio, was continued; a cycle on Laudato Si, recently presented to the world, was aired.
- The WUCWO Secretariat collaborated with Talitha Kum in the preparation of the Day Against Human Trafficking, which was celebrated on February 8, feast of St. Bakhita.
- WUCWO Secretary General, María Lía Zervino, Servidora, was invited by the Director of the Fribourg Finance Observatory and to the Congress "The common good between past and future," acquiring information on new techniques in an experimental stage for obtaining drinking water through solar energy. This participation allowed to count on informative elements that can give impulse to the generation of projects by Member Organisations linked to the WUCWO resolution: Drinking water and common good.
- WUCWO echoed Pope Francis' call to live the Jubilee of Mercy (from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016), emphasising the convocation (started in the preparation stage of the Jubilee), to its Member Organisations to concretise the priority of the four-year period 2014-2018, going out to meet the family, the young and the suffering of the world, giving witness that "Mercy [is] the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness" (Misericordiae Vultus 2); mercy also stimulates us to walk the path of mercy by making corporal and spiritual works effective, with the conviction that the most effective antidote to alleviate the physical, spiritual and social wounds of our contemporaries and to face the present anthropological crisis is the humble practice of mercy.
- WUCWO President General, Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, proposed, as a concrete expression of the celebration of the WUCWO Day (13 May), to launch a campaign to obtain funds for drinking water projects, so as to give effect to WUCWO's commitment to the resolution voted at the 2014 General Assembly on the right of human beings to have access to drinking water.
- A special cycle on the Jubilee of Mercy was presented in the programme "Women, Seeds of Hope," run in Spanish by WUCWO, on Vatican Radio.
- Convoked by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the President General of WUCWO participated in the seminar "Women and Work," organised by the Women's section, and in the second meeting of the Women's Consultation Group, the body created by the Pontifical Council for Culture of which she was a member.
- WUCWO was represented by its President General, Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, at the European Assembly of Religions for Peace, together with 350 leaders of the world's great religions, in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. Advances were made, reinforcing the dialogue for peace and tolerance.
- WUCWO opened up possibilities and encouraged and supported projects to alleviate situations of unacceptable deprivation. Following on from the Secretary General's initiative to attend the Congress on the Common Good in Fribourg, Switzerland in 2015 (with a view to concretising WUCWO’s resolution on providing clean water), the Catholic Women's League Fiji initiated the provision of clean water through solar energy for a poor population. Along these lines, Coordination des Unions Diocésaine des Associations Fémines Catholiques of Senegal presented a mini-project and Misiones Rurales Argentinas, a pre-project.
- REGIONAL CONFERENCES
- AFRICA REGION: It was held from 29 August to 5 September 2016, in Lilongwe, Malawi, with the theme: Women of Africa, Proclaimers of God's Mercy. The situation of many women living in extreme poverty, with few educational resources, forced into marriage and prostitution and subject to the growing threat of human trafficking, among the many hardships, was highlighted. Faced with such a difficult and unjust reality, action plans were affirmed which, among others, would favour the visibility of the situation, the need for cultural changes with regard to the treatment and formation of women, the need to ensure that the protocols signed at the United Nations were in accordance with Catholic teachings and that the laws adopted to overcome the situation of inferiority of women were complied with.
- ASIA-PACIFIC REGION: It was held from 2 to 6 May, in Lami, capital of the Fiji Islands, with the attendance of 200 women from distant countries such as Italy, Japan, China, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, among others. The theme chosen was: "In Hope and Mercy We Meet in God’s Love." The most relevant and convergent points worked on in the workshops were the lack of attention that parents give to their children in some families and the impact of this behaviour on children. Emphasis was placed on the importance of the family as the basis of society, the need for children to have strong families to protect and supervise their activities and to defend the equal rights of men and women.
- NORTH AMERICA REGION: It was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with the theme: "Women of Mercy - United with one heart, one voice, one Mission." On that occasion, also the Congress of the Catholic Women's League of Canada was held.
- EUROPE AND LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGIONS would hold their respective Conferences in 2017.
- WUCWO was invited by the Pontifical Council for the Family to organise, under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the official presentation of the Exhortation Amoris Laetitia in Rome. The event, which took place on April 19, 2016, was attended by ambassadors and representatives of seventy embassies to the Holy See and about fifty delegates of Catholic NGOs and journalists. Other Catholic-inspired NGOs, such as Caritas Internationalis and APG23, with whom WUCWO formed a sub-group to work for the family at the UN in Geneva, were co-organisers. The presentation also had media impact. As a consequence, the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva invited WUCWO to co-sponsor a similar event there.
- WUCWO presented an oral statement on the Protection of the Family at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The intervention was made by WUCWO Secretary General, María Lía Zervino, who since 2015 has coordinated the Working Group on the Family of the Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs in Geneva. The declaration was co-signed by some twenty NGOs.
- On social networks, WUCWO re-organised the "One Minute for Peace" campaign for the third consecutive year. It was disseminated in 20 languages.
- The Second Meeting with Women from the Middle East was held in Bari, Italy, from 19 to 23 October. The theme of the event was: "Women, workers of peace towards a culture of meeting and dialogue." The invitation was extended to all the women who were part of WUCWO, given that the serious crisis that was threatening world peace required an effective reaction to counteract the "globalization of indifference," as Pope Francis pointed out. The meeting was intended to strengthen friendship, collaboration and progress in the task of getting closer and helping each other to find concrete ways of action.
- WUCWO celebrated the 90th anniversary of its joining the League of Nations, the international organisation that preceded the United Nations between the two world wars, created to prevent the scourges against humanity. Since then, WUCWO has remained committed to working in these international agencies with the same determination as at the outset.
- EUROPE REGIONAL CONFERENCE: It was held from 17 to 20 March 2017 with the theme: WUCWO Women for Honesty and Justice. Approximately forty women from France, England, Italy and Spain participated. The theme was selected to focus on the fifth resolution adopted at the 2014 General Assembly: Fight Against Corruption. It was highlighted that it is a global problem, which causes inequality, injustice, violence, which manifests itself most forcefully against women and damages the common good. As a way of confronting corruption, it was proposed, among other resources, to promote means of personal and social denunciation, transmission of ethical principles as for education, service, commitment and love that come from turning to God and to our brothers and sisters, especially the suffering of the world.
- In March 2017, WUCWO was invited, for the first time, by the President of the Republic of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, to the yearly tribute to women. The event was attended by the President General, Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, and the Board Member for Italy, Anna Paoletti.
- WUCWO continued its hard work against human trafficking. To this end, at the last NGO Conference of the Council of Europe, it proposed a cross-cutting theme to the committees and working groups, that is human trafficking, with special attention to women, based on the experiences of its member organisations that work hard at the local and national levels.
- WUCWO’s legal seat was moved from Paris, France, to Rome, Italy, with a unanimous vote of the Board in its meeting of October 2016. This was meant to allow a better collaboration with the different bodies of the Holy See, while WUCWO’s activities could be intensified and enlarged, favouring the exchange with other Rome-based NGOs, the reception of other authorities to the headquarters and those who on their own initiative seek to be linked, participation in events organised by the different Dicasteries, contact with ambassadors to the Holy See, and other activities.
- WUCWO reaffirmed the human right to drinking water with "sign actions": 1) A water well in Senegal, carried out by CUDAFCS with the help of Manos Unidas (beforehand women walked 10 km to obtain it); 2) A water well in Argentina, carried out by Misiones Rurales Argentinas (in a school in a marginal rural area), thanks to the collaboration of the North American Regional Conference.
- WUCWO’s Secretariat presented a renewed website, which featured new communication resources on social networks for young people with a view to the upcoming Synod on "Young People, Faith and Vocation Discernment," in three official languages of WUCWO. In addition, the implementation of videoconferences was added, in order to begin a dialogue with young people, to interest them in the activities of WUCWO.
- WUCWO participated in the Annual Meeting of COATNET, the Ecumenical Network Against Trafficking Network, organised by Caritas International, in November 2017, in Brasilia, Brazil.
- In collaboration with Talitha Kum and other organisations, WUCWO organised the Seminar "Migration and Trafficking in Human Beings" in Rome.
- At the 39th General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, Maryvonne Kayser, WUCWO International Representative, introduced WUCWO to all UNESCO member countries. This unprecedented event was also uploaded to the website of the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to UNESCO.
- LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE: It was held in Antigua, Guatemala, from 26 to 28 October 2017. Its theme was: "Family, seed of a humanised society." It was attended by about one hundred women from ten American countries; the President General and the Secretary General of WUCWO also participated. The Conference was developed on the basis of two main lines: 1) The reality of women in my community; 2) The reality of the family in my environment. The conclusions stressed the urgency of strengthening both the family and marriage, educating young people with values and listening to them, respecting and demanding respect for freedom in the education of children, demanding effective public policies in support and protection of women and the family, promoting and sustaining ecclesial actions for the pastoral care of women and the family, offering the contribution of women in the formation of seminarians.
- WUCWO continued to work towards the eradication of trafficking in persons, and a pilot project was initiated through teamwork between Caritas Internationalis, Talitha Kum and WUCWO. In order to take this forward, a workshop was organised and then held in Lilongwe, Malawi, with organisations from Malawi, Swaziland and South Africa.
- WUCWO Secretary General was invited to participate, together with ten other women, as a panellist in the General Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (CAL), along with the bishops and cardinals members of the CAL. This General Assembly was held in March 2018, in Rome, and its theme was: "Women as a pillar in the edification of the Church and Latin American society." Afterwards, she was invited to the public presentation of the conclusions, in order to give testimony of the experience lived as a woman.
- WUCWO, in collaboration with IFCA, renewed the "One Minute for Peace" campaign, echoing the prayer of Pope Francis for peace, and in particular for the Middle East.
- WUCWO’s GENERAL ASSEMBLY was held in Dakar, Senegal, from 15 to 22 October 2018. The convening theme was: "WUCWO Women, Carriers of ‘living water’ to a world which thirsts for Peace." "If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me something to drink,' you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water" (John 4:10). María Lía Zervino, Servidora, was elected WUCWO President General. It was the first General Assembly to be held in the francophone zone of the African continent. It took place with an atmosphere of deep spirituality, responsible work and fraternal friendship. The cordiality of the Senegalese women, their enthusiasm and joy, expressed in their gestures, words, attitudes, local songs and fascinating dances, illuminated by the colour of their typical costumes, made the Assembly a feast of glory to the Lord and of fraternal coexistence.
WUCWO’s priority for the four-year period was: WUCWO Women called to Holiness to sanctify the world for a Holistic Development. The resolutions presented by the organisations were grouped according to common problems: 1) A healthy planet depends on all of us; 2) Let us take care of the family in difficult situations, especially its most vulnerable members; 3) Let us eliminate discrimination and violence against women; 4) Let us educate to respond to the call to holiness. The Assembly made a special recommendation to follow the instructions received from the Holy See in the care and prevention of abuse of children and vulnerable persons.
- On the occasion of the General Assembly held in Dakar, Senegal, a special edition of Women’s Voice (No. 47) was presented. It sported a bigger size and colours, with articles concerning the four-year period 2014-2018 and information from the WUCWO Regions and the General Assembly.
- During the four-year period 2014-2018, WUCWO incorporated five new channels of communication: the Newsletter, Vatican Radio, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp.