Father Michael delivered his annual address at the Development Studies Association of Ireland 2013 Conference on Health and Gender Equity.
His address focused around the key issues which leave women and girls vulnerable to discrimination, victimisation, and inequality, and how these in turn contribute to their risk of contracting HIV. Please click the image below to download Father Michael’s presentation slides:
You can hear the full audio of Father Michael’s address by clicking the ‘play’ button on the left-hand side of the audio bar below:
In speaking of the many contributing factors that raise the risk of women contracting HIV, Father Michael highlighted challenges of women’s limited autonomy across economic, educational, and sexual contexts, as well as cultural aspects including expectations that women should be submissive to husbands or partners, early marriage of girls, and the acceptance of gender-based violence.
HIV and AIDS bring unspeakable additional sufferings to women and girls.
To overcome the challenges set by this inequality, and to help raise the status of women, Father Michael made a call for improved leadership to create real social change, communicating with broader audiences through the media, and accessing children through the school system.
AIDS or no AIDS, women and men are essentially equal. Making that equality a lived reality is a major challenge for every individual, community, institution, or country.
Delivering his compelling final statement, Father Michael made tribute to the passionate dream of a realized freedom and created equality, put forth by Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years prior:
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the most noble of our human dreams. I have a dream that one day our world will turn into reality its belief that women and men are fully equal to one another in every respect. I have a dream that one day the whole world will see the countries of Africa and Asia, and all other countries of the world, as shining lights of freedom, justice, reconciliation and respect between women and men on an equal footing. I have a dream that those who follow us will live in a society where they will not be classified by the label of their gender but by the quality of their character. I have a dream that one day we shall see that there is no more exploitation of women, no more gender- based violence, no more discrimination between male and female, but that we are all one in our common humanity.