There is a strong link between religious freedom and the facilitation of women’s rights, according to the US Ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich.
In an article for Fox News, Gingrich argues that “when religious freedom is protected, women’s rights are strengthened and societies flourish”.
“Female victims of religious discrimination or marginalisation are particularly vulnerable to early and forced marriages, human trafficking, and sexual and gender-based violence,” she says. “This includes sexual assault, rape, intimate partner violence and female genital mutilation.”
She also claims that governments sometimes dismiss and tolerate abuse of women in order to “destroy” and “drive out” religious communities that are not welcome, as an example mentioning the women of different religious and ethnic minorities abused by IS and Rohingya Muslims persecuted in Myanmar.
According to Gringrich, governments that protect religious freedom have greater protections for women. Countries that do not force religious conversions, says the ambassador, “are more likely to defend women’s rights”.
Gringrich led a panel about the challenges women face at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held in Washington DC last week.