Two quotes from the proceedings of the 56th session of Commission on the Status of Women:
NORWAY: Norway fully respects and protects religious freedom and cultural diversity. But we cannot accept that religious, cultural and certain so-called moral arguments are being used to block decisions and avoid obligations we all know would give millions of women freedom and save hundreds of thousands of lives every year. All countries and cultures have their traditions and hold them dear. But in 2012, with the knowledge we now have with regard to women’s rights, opportunities and health, we also know that certain perspectives and practices are harmful –and dangerous – to women. This means we have to compromise. Many will have to let go of some traditional convictions, also when they are based on religious belief or culture. After all, every country, every culture and every society undergo permanent change. That’s what’s called – development.
THE HOLY SEE: In closing, Madame Chairperson, my delegation reaffirms all of the Holy See’s reservations on past occasions with regard to the meaning of the term “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” which should not include abortion or abortion services. Moreover, the Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or as part of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes or classes/programmes of education in sexuality. Regarding the term “gender” and its many uses in the text, my delegation once again reaffirms the use of “gender” as referring to “women and men,” or male and female, according to its ordinarily agreed usage before, during and after negotiation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.