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Pope Francis shares a laugh with some of the women members of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops, including Spanish theologian Cristina Inogés Sanz, left, at the assembly's session Oct. 6, 2023, in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Governments must eliminate laws discriminating against women and help guarantee women’s human rights, Pope Francis said.

“Let us respect women. Let us respect their dignity, their basic rights. And if we don’t, our society will not progress,” the pope said in a video message released April 2 by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer.

The pope’s prayer intention for the month of April is: “Let us pray that the dignity and worth of women be recognized in every culture and for an end to the discrimination they face in various parts of the world.”

In the video, the pope said, “In theory, we all agree that men and women have the same dignity as persons. But this does not play out in practice.”

“In many parts of the world, women are treated like the first thing to get rid of,” he said.

“There are countries where women are forbidden to access aid, open a business or go to school,” he said. “In these places, they are subject to laws that make them dress a certain way. And in many countries, genital mutilation is still practiced.”

“Let us not deprive women of their voice. Let us not rob all these abused women of their voice. They are exploited, marginalized,” the pope said.

“Governments need to commit to eliminate discriminatory laws everywhere and to work toward guaranteeing women's human rights,” he said.

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