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Ukrainian Gender Equality Commissioner declares women’s economic inclusion and empowerment a national priority for country’s peacebuilding and recovery /

Women and marginalized groups have key role to play in leading decision making on Ukraine’s recovery, which should help build the country back better and more equal. This was the main message of representatives of the Ukrainian government, women rights organizations, civil society, and the private sector that convened at gender responsive event held ahead of the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine has had a disproportionate effect on women and girls. They represent the great majority of refugees, and internally displaced. Under daily attack, women face increased challenges in accessing housing, social services, food, sexual and reproductive health, employment, and other essential services. Yet at the same time women and women led organization are playing a huge role in providing humanitarian assistance, supporting their communities, participating in the armed resistance and keeping the economy afloat.

Speaking in London on the eve of the international Ukraine Recovery Conference, Ukraine’s Government Commissioner for Gender Equality Kateryna Levchenko said it was imperative that reconstruction plans ensure women and girls specific needs are addressed and women are fully included in the recovery’s planning and financing.

“Gender equality and inclusion are among the main principles of recovery according to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano. Principles are good when they are effectively implemented. Therefore, any international support should consider a gender mainstreaming approach and women empowerment should be part of all projects for all development partners without exception.  I would like to appeal to development partners to advocate the need for gender-responsible recovery of Ukraine and to be strong as we, Ukrainians are strong!” she said.

“To rebuild a vibrant and inclusive Ukraine, women and women’s organisations must be included as core voices involved in shaping the Ukrainian society. To ensure Ukraine has its best and brightest citizens re-building the country, every table, every panel, every process must include women and diverse voices of Ukraine’s communities,” said Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister of State (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and United Nations).

“Ukraine already has many of the laws and policies in place to ensure a gender responsive recovery, UN Women looks forward to supporting our counterparts in government and civil society to implement them, while also encouraging international partners to apply financing for gender equality principles in their decision making on how to fund the recovery,” stated Sabine Freizer, UN Women’s Representative in Ukraine.

Mark Bowman, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Vice President for Policy and Partnership, said: “EBRD is well on track to deliver on the Bank’s commitment to invest €3 billion for Ukraine by the end of 2023.”

At the centre of our support is the focus on rebuilding Ukraine’s human capital and ensuring a gender responsive recovery. Our clients Horizon Capital and Astarta gave impressive examples on how the private sector is supporting women entrepreneurs, facilitating the reintegration of veterans and others into the Ukrainian agricultural workforce,” he added.

Natalia Karbowska, Ukraine Women’s Fund, speaking on behalf of the Ukrainian civil society organizations emphasized that to make recovery truly gender responsive the following is needed: political will of those making decisions, expertise, analysis, and statistics, strong civil society to develop the strategies but to work with the government as “critical friends” on their monitoring and implementation, platforms and clear priorities where gender responsive should be integrated in the first place, such as economy and employment.

“With recovery we are learning by doing. There is not much experience and knowledge globally and of, course, in Ukraine. Gender responsive recovery is about strategies but also about practical implementation. We have to be realistic. We cannot integrate gender everywhere at the same time. We have to decide on the priorities. Criteria. Sectors with the biggest gender gaps, which will benefit the most from women’s participation. Economy and employment is clearly one of them,” she added.

The side-event to the Ukraine Recovery Conference was convened by the British Embassy Kyiv (BEK) and hosted by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), together with partners including UN Women, the FCDO’s Support to Civil Society Organisations (SCSO) programme in Ukraine, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Ukrainian Women’s Fund, the Women’s Ukraine Congress, and the Government of Ukraine.