Pope Francis has given women more empowerment in the Vatican by appointing two women to posts previously held exclusively by men. 

On February 6, Pope Francis appointed French nun Nathalie Becquart as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares major meetings of bishops held every few years. On Friday, meanwhile, he appointed Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as Promoter of Justice in the Vatican's Court of Appeals.

A member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, Becquart has been given the right to vote in all-male assemblies, breaking a long tradition of men-only votes. At the relatively young age of 52, she will serve as the joint-second in command in the Synod of Bishops. 

Women were previously allowed to take part in synods as consultants or observers, but only "synod fathers", including bishops and specially appointed male representatives, were allowed to vote on documents sent to the Pope. 

Many women have called for the right to vote in synods for years and more than 10,000 people signed a petition during a synod in 2018 demanding that women were granted the right to vote at the assemblies. 

Cardinal Mario Grech, the synod’s secretary-general, told the Vatican's website that the appointments were a step forward. 

"A door has been opened. We will see what other steps could be taken in the future," he said. 

The appointments follow a series of progressive appointments by Pope Francis last year. 

The Pope appointed six women to the council that oversees Vatican finances in 2020, while he also appointed women to the positions of deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, and deputy head of the Vatican press office.