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International Caritas studying unequal treatment of women

Leaders of Caritas Internationalis, the largest Catholic confederation of aid, are meeting in Rome to find new ways of acting in emergencies and promoting reconciliation.

60 representatives of national Caritas groups are participating in the working sessions. Last week's annual meeting of Caritas' executive committee looked at the discrepancy between opportunities enjoyed by men and women, as well as the relation between militarisation and humanitarian aid.

Monsignor Giorgio Bertin, director of Caritas-Somalia, told Vatican Radio that the disadvantage suffered by women is a critical issue in the countries of the Horn of Africa.

"Even today, horrible practices take place ... which abuses feminine dignity in a really shameful way," Monsignor Bertin said. "In the Caritas sections of Djibouti and Somalia, we are working especially for a change in mentality."

On the question of reconciliation, Monsignor Bertin explained that it is a key topic for Caritas, because "the great forms of poverty depend especially on the absence of peace, the lack of acceptance of differences that can be tribal, linguistic or economic -- in a word, the lack of just relations between peoples."