Women in Vatican City

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Women in Vatican City are those who live in or are from Vatican City. According to the Herald Sun in March 2011, there were "only 32 female citizens" residing in the "smallest state in the world". Out of the 572 citizens issued with Vatican passports, one of them is a nun.[1] On February 26, 2013, Worldcrunch reported that there were around 30 women who are citizens of Vatican City. In 2003,Worldcrunch also reported that there were 2 South American women, 3 Swiss women, 2 Polish women, and some Italian women. As of February 2013, the majority of the women were from Italy.[2]

Female residents[edit]

Among the women who lived in Vatican City was one of the daughters of an electrician, who later got married and "lost her right to live" in the city. Another woman who lived in Vatican City was Magdalena Wolinska-Riedi, who was a Polish translator and wife of one of the Swiss Guards.[2]

Vatican City citizens[edit]

Among the women who have citizenship in Vatican City, there is one officer in the military, two teachers (one teaches in high school, the other teaches in kindergarten), and one academic. Women obtain Vatican City citizenship by marriage (as a baptized Catholic) to their husbands; however such citizenship "lasts only for the duration of their stay" in Vatican City.[2]

Value of women[edit]

In the past, women were not allowed to open a bank account in Vatican City, but, during the leadership of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the value of women in the city was highlighted. One of Pope Benedict XVI's assistant editors and confidential adviser was a woman. Her name is Ingrid Stampa.[2] On April 21, 2013, The Telegraph reported that Pope Francis will be appointing "more women to key Vatican" positions. In addition to this, the L'Osservatore Romano - the daily newspaper in Vatican City - is now publishing supplementary pages that address women's issues.[3] Women are not allowed to be ordained to the presbyterate or episcopate, though a commission is currently studying the question of women in the diaconate.


President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on July 10, 2009.

Women visiting St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City are expected to wear long black dresses or skirts that do not expose the knee area. The length of the sleeves of the top clothing are required to be "mid to long sleeves" length. Only "simple jewelry" are permitted. Footwear for women should be "dark closed-toe shoes". Women may or may not wear a "black hat or veil".[4] Women can not wear clothing that does not cover the arms and the knees.[2]

Voting rights[edit]

No elections are held in Vatican City, and consequently neither male nor female citizens or residents have voting rights. The Pope, who serves as the head of state, is elected by the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church. The College is part of the Holy See, which forms a separate sovereign entity from Vatican City. Cardinals in the Catholic Church are required to be male, and only men are eligible to be elected Pope. Members of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, which forms the legislature of Vatican City, are appointed by the Pope and must be cardinals.

As women are unable to vote, or hold any executive or legislative position in either the City State or the Holy See, Vatican City is the only country remaining with no voting or electoral rights for women.[5][6]


Vatican City is one of two sovereign states that do not allow divorce, the other being the Republic of the Philippines.

Total abortion ban[edit]

Vatican City is one of six countries worldwide that ban abortion completely—even if the mother's life is in danger.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Only 32 women in Vatican City, Herald Sun, March 02, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Mrowińska, Alina. BEHIND THE WALLS: WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LIVE INSIDE THE VATICAN, FOR A WOMAN, GAZETA WYBORCZA/Worldcrunch, February 26, 2013.
  3. ^ Pope Francis 'to appoint more women to key Vatican posts', The Telegraph, April 21, 2013
  4. ^ Dress Code for Women, Vatican City Dress Code, buzzle.com
  5. ^ Maloney, Alli (26 August 2015). "As Saudi Arabian women celebrate the vote, the (brief) history of global suffrage must be examined". New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  6. ^ Zarya, Valentina (11 December 2015). "There Is Now Only One Country Left in the World Where Women Can't Vote". Fortune. Retrieved 9 January 2017.