News

Vatican Asks to Improve Education for Girls and Women Worldwide

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
9 Mar 2016

Cecilia Flores-Oebanda is defined as a freedom fighter. She has come to Rome to explain her difficult childhood, one characterized by child labor at 7 years old and, soon after, being a political prisoner in the Philippines. If four years in prison were not enough punishment, they also locked her up with her children.

CECILIA FLORES-OEBANDA - President, Visayan Forum
"I can just still remember that I had to carry my children on my back and climb a tree inside the prision to show them that there is life outside these four walls."

Today she is the president of Visayan Forum, an organization that has rescued and helped more than 32,000 victims of human trafficking.

CECILIA FLORES-OEBANDA - President, Visayan Forum
"I believe that God prepared me for this fight. 25 years and still going strong. Saving one life at a time is important. Seeing how one girl is able to recover and dream again and build her life again and also reach out and help others, it really gives me such joy to see that."

She is one voice that can be heard in the Vatican at Voices of Faith, an event that wants to encourage women as drivers of change throughout the world.

KERRY A. ROBINSON - Voices of Faith
"We really need in this Year of Mercy, in particular, to have a preferencial option for women."

This year's meeting focuses on the importance of education. Some 65 million girls worldwide do not have access to formal education and another 16 million will never go to school.

KERRY A. ROBINSON - Voices of Faith
"I think education breaks the circle of poverty. It is a way, a path forward. It allows one to have access to opportunities and to work to improve humankind."

P. JOAQUÍN MARTÍNEZ - Jesuit Refugee Service
"Many young women in the world today do not have the opportunity. We realize that we're not saying that we should not give opportunities to boys; but we are saying that young girls do not have as much, or as many opportunities, and therefore there's a preferencial option, if I can use that term, for young women and girls."

Girls are the first ones to be denied education, and this discrimination is not a thing of the Third World or the educational field. It is estimated that, globally, women's wages are 24 percent lower than those of men.