UN Women says Russia-Ukraine war exacts heavy price for women and girls

Why International Women's Day is so important: UN Women Executive Director

Women and girls pay the “ultimate price” during conflicts like the one in Ukraine, the executive director of UN Women told CNBC.

Sima Bahous, who in September 2021 became head of the UN body dedicated to gender equality, spoke on International Women’s Day on March 8.

She told CNBC’s Tania Bryer that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence during conflict, as well as loss of access to health care, education, food, water and sanitation. sanitation.

“But more importantly, we also see that women are not only victims of the crisis, but are also taking their families, their communities and their nations from fragility to stability, if we give them the space to do so. Bahus said. .

“So, that is why we seek to empower women in crisis, and in countries that are not in crisis, because empowering women from the negotiating table, at the family level, so that they play the leadership role that they can play, and if we give them access, if we give them resources, if we support them and if we stand in solidarity with them, they are always able to lead and give hope in their homes, in their communities and in their countries”.

Women and children from war-torn Ukraine, including a mother with a baby, arrive in Poland at the Medyka border crossing on March 4, 2022.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | fake images

Bahous’ comments came after the International Rescue Committee warned Monday that of the more than 1.5 million refugees who have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the vast majority are women and children who are at disproportionate risk of exploitation, including sexual violence and trafficking.

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According to the aid group, some 80,000 women will give birth in the next three months in Ukraine, many of whom will not have access to critical maternal healthcare if the conflict continues to disrupt essential services.

Ukraine again accused Russia of war crimes after a attack on a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the pregnant women had been removed from the hospital days before the attack, although a video taken after the missile attack it showed a pregnant woman being carried on a stretcher. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNBC after Lavro’s claims that Moscow’s leadership “live in your own reality”.

Bahous told CNBC that stopping the conflict “is the best hope we can have for women and girls.”

He called for humanitarian corridors that allow citizens to flee the conflict and the entry of humanitarian aid. There have been several attempts to establish safe routes in recent days, but many have failed following accusations from Russia. forces continue to attack despite ceasefires.

“Let’s do everything we can to end the conflict,” Bahous said. “Let’s all put ourselves in a gender perspective too to see how this conflict is affecting women and girls and let’s come together to find a solution through negotiations and peaceful means, not forgetting to keep women at the table when we are negotiating this peace. . and when we are negotiating how we move forward”.

UN Women has been working in Ukraine since 2015.