Vatican recognizes association of its women employees

Vatican City — Women — lay and religious — make up almost 20 percent of the Vatican workforce, and a group of them have formed an association designed as a forum for collaboration, sharing and outreach.

"D.VA" — for "Donne in Vaticano" — "Women in the Vatican" — was approved as an association by the Vatican City governor's office in September, according to a press release issued Dec. 7.

So far, about 50 women have joined the association that a dozen Vatican employees started organizing several years ago. They say 750 women — 19 percent of the Vatican work force — are eligible to join.

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The female employees include two undersecretaries — Flaminia Giovanelli of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Sister Nicoletta Spezzati, a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, who works at the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Natasa Govekar, a theologian, serves as director of the new theological-pastoral department of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications, and Paloma Garcia Ovejero is assistant director of the Vatican press office.

In addition, the Vatican communications' apparatus includes many female journalists, and women scholars and restorers work at the Vatican Library, Secret Archives and Museums.

Organizers said D.VA is not a union or a pressure group, but is a "network of friendship, exchange and solidarity among all for human and professional growth."

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