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Pope Francis greets Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro, and a group of women wearing wattle lapel pins at the Vatican yesterday (Vatican Media)

Marking International Women’s Day yesterday, Pope Francis called for a round of applause for women, saying “they deserve it”, while praising their “ability to construct a more humane society”. Source: Vatican News.

“On International Women’s Day, I think of all women: I thank them for their commitment to building a more humane society through their ability to grasp reality with a creative eye and a tender heart.” 

Pope Francis said this during his Wednesday General Audience in the Vatican, recalling that the international Day is being commemorated on March 8, stressing, ”This is a privilege of women alone!

“A special blessing for all the women in the square. And a round of applause for women! They deserve it!”

The day comes as Vatican News reports that in the 10 years of Pope Francis’ pontificate, there has been a significant increase in the number of women working at the Vatican and women employed in senior positions. 

There are 1165 female employees working for the Pope, compared to only 846 in the year Francis took office in 2013. The number of women in Vatican leadership positions has also grown under Francis.

The increase in female employees is even more pronounced if one looks exclusively at the Holy See, with more than one in four employees a woman – in absolute figures 812 out of 3114.

Today, five women hold the rank of undersecretary and one the rank of secretary at the Holy See. At the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Pope Francis appointed a female secretary for the first time in 2021, the Italian religious Sr Alessandra Smerilli. It is the highest post ever held by a woman at the Holy See.

Historically, the appointment of expert women to high Curia offices began with Paul VI, when he appointed Australian Rosemarie Goldie, who worked at the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 1967 to 1976, as one of two vice-secretaries. 


Pope Francis applauds women on International Women’s Day (By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican News

10 years of Pope Francis: Significantly more women working at the Vatican (By Gudrun Sailer , Vatican News)