Statement from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on Ukraine, 30 March
As the war in Ukraine continues to take its toll on women and girls, UN Women reiterates the UN Secretary-General’s urgent call for peace. The war must stop now.
Since the war began, more than 10 million people have been forced from their homes in search of safety and security. UN Women applauds Ukraine’s neighbours who have already received more than 4 million people.
Women and girls constitute approximately 90 per cent of all those displaced from Ukraine, they are uniquely exposed to gender-specific risks such as trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and denial of access to essential services and goods. Reports of some of these risks already becoming reality have begun to surface. This demands an urgent gender-intentional response to ensure the specific rights and needs of women and girls are prioritized.
Women’s civil society organizations inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries are uniquely qualified to help meet these needs. The majority of these organizations remain operational, committed to supporting Ukraine’s women and girls, increasingly at the risk of their own lives.
They are providing food and shelter, legal assistance, mental health support, and help for those evacuated and on the move. Supporting these organizations must be a priority. Ensuring safe humanitarian corridors for this work, and for the work of humanitarian agencies is imperative. We echo the UN Secretary-General’s call for a humanitarian ceasefire.
Women’s organizations lie at the heart of UN Women’s response in Ukraine. We have directly allocated immediate funds to women’s civil society organisations, with more to follow, alongside additional funds coming through the United Nations Women, Peace and Humanitarian Fund for which UN Women is the Secretariat.
We are making efforts to ensure that women’s priority needs are addressed, specifically, safety; access to shelters; necessities such as food, medicine, and hygiene products, accommodation, water and access to power and connectivity; and access to livelihoods, including the ability to work and earn an income.
We are conducting rapid gender assessments to ensure that up-to-date data and analysis on the gender dynamics of the war and its impacts are available to all those working on the response. And we are providing experts to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council. Our experts are equipped with the skills and experience to investigate sexual violence, abuse and exploitation of women and girls in the context of war. We invest in this work because our experience has shown that to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, it is imperative to investigate these crimes and hold perpetrators to account against these fundamental abuses of the rights of women and girls.
UN Women remains determined to give all we can of our energies, expertise and resources, alongside our partners within and outside the United Nations family. We use our voice in international political fora to ensure that women’s rights, interest, voices and leadership are fully built into the global response to the war in Ukraine.
UN Women is committed to playing our part to ensure that all women and girls everywhere are protected from the consequences of war, and will take every opportunity to support their resilience and leadership.