Diplomats, UN officials welcome the courage of Ukrainian women

CAMEROON – The Irish Foreign Minister congratulated the resilience and courage of Ukrainian women. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations welcomes their courage in defending their homes and countries. And the head of the International Monetary Fund told the “sisters” in Ukraine: “We admire your courage, we share your pain, we are with you.”

It was International Women’s Day on Wednesday, and at a meeting of the UN Security Council on women’s economic empowerment in conflict zones, speakers from a number of countries condemned Russia’s war with neighboring Ukraine and its impact on women.

Russia’s deputy ambassador Gennady Kuzmin has responded to sanctions against his country, which affect “primarily the interests of women in the socio-economic sphere.”

He accused the “cold western world” of indifferently watching for eight years what he called “the murders of the Kiev junta against women and children in Donetsk and Luhansk and their persecution by Ukrainian radicals and neo-Nazis in the east and south-eastern Ukraine “.

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In addition, he said, cities and villages in those Russian-backed separatist areas were bombed “and the Kiev regime managed to get away with it.”

“But this was not something that could go on indefinitely,” Kuzmin said, alluding to Russia’s justification for invading Ukraine.

Natalia Mudrenko, the highest-ranking woman in Ukraine’s UN mission, accused Russia of actually holding civilians hostage and said that the “critical situation” in Mariupol and other cities required immediate action by world leaders, humanities and medicine. .

Civilians, mostly women and children, are “not allowed in and humanitarian aid is not allowed in,” she said, her voice trembling with emotion. “If they try to leave the Russians, open fire and kill them. They run out of food and water and they die. ”

She said a 6-year-old girl died Monday in the besieged city of Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov “alone in the last moments of her life when her mother died in the Russian shelling”. And on Tuesday in the Nikolaev area she reported that “the Russian occupiers fired at the van with a group of educators of the local orphanage (and) three of them were killed”. She also cited “cases of sexual abuse of children by the occupiers.”

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Mudrenko, who has the rank of mission adviser, also accused the Russians of undermining all humanitarian corridor agreements.

“For example, in Mariupol, the Ukrainian military cleared mines and checkpoints to ensure evacuation along a previously agreed route,” she said. “Russian forces immediately fired and tried to attack in this way.”

Mudrenko said the war highlighted the role of Ukrainian women in defending their country. At the beginning of 2021, there were 57,000 women in the army, which is 22.8% of the military, she said, and, according to the defense minister since the Russian invasion, that number is “much higher.”

Sima Bahovs, the head of the UN-Women, told the council that in Ukraine “humanitarian needs are growing and spreading by the hour”, and most of those fleeing the country – now more than 2 million – are women and children.

She warned that the war threatened to “give up women’s rights and women’s access to work and livelihood” in a war-torn country.

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At a separate event dedicated to UN Women’s Day, Bacchus told participants that the “terrible situation” in Ukraine and its impact on women “will remind us that all conflicts, from Ukraine to Myanmar to Afghanistan, from the Sahel to Yemen, come from women. the highest price and girls ”.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveny told the Security Council that “the eyes of the world are now on Ukraine”, where the war has a “serious and disproportionate impact” on women and girls, and strongly condemned Russia for violating the UN Charter and international law. .

“Today, on International Women’s Day, we want Ukrainian women and girls to know that we welcome their resilience and courage,” he said. “We are with them now and in the future.”

Coweny stressed that the international community, and especially the Security Council, has a responsibility to respect the rights of all women at risk of conflict, wherever that conflict may arise, “and we must never forget or diminish this duty.”

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US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that “the unprovoked and unjustified war in Russia” forced women to “make unimaginable choices – forced to leave their homes because of the threat of imminent violence as long as they continue to support their communities, families and loved ones.” .

She highlighted the pain of mothers forced to give birth in bomb shelters and forced to give their children in crowded trains alone, and women who were critical of “building a democratic society that has developed over the past eight years in Ukraine.”

IMF Managing Director Kryshtolina Georgieva told the council that women are disproportionately responsible for the destruction of the war in Ukraine and elsewhere, protecting their children, caring for the wounded, sacrificing for their countries, their communities and their families.

Empowering women in fragile and conflict situations can bring “powerful economic benefits,” she said, citing an IMF analysis that shows that improving gender equality can boost economic growth, strengthen resilience, increase financial stability and reduce income inequality. ».

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