Written by: Timothy Rodriguez
On May 21, 2014, PeaceWomen hosted a panel discussion on conflict prevention and women's participation in Ukraine as part of its Lecture Series on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination at Princeton University, this panel discussion focused on two pillars of the WPS Agenda: prevention and participation. Current military tensions have put women's rights and participation increasingly at risk in Ukraine. Natalia Karbowska, a Ukrainian women's leader, and Grigore Pop-Eleches, Associate Professor at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs discussed the conflict in Ukraine and women's full and equal participation in shaping Ukraine's future.
“There were many, many women at Maidan,” said Karbowska as she highlighted women's participation in Ukraine's protest movement. Think tanks and non-governmental organizations working in Ukraine are helping form new legislation to overcome the crisis, but when “we asked if they would include a gender perspective they said no.” Due to budget constraints as a result of the current conflict, Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers has suggested that the National Action Plan (NAP) on gender equality be cut. This puts women's participation in shaping Ukraine's future in jeopardy. Pop-Eleches focused on the East-West divide, but mentioned how women's movements can create common ground on issues to resolve conflict. Toward the end of the discussion, Karbowska appealed to the international community to support Ukrainian civil society, noting that “having a strong civil society will help keep the Ukrainian government accountable.” She also highlighted the national dialogue project as “an opportunity to include civil society groups at national and regional level in the East and West.”
The event highlighted the enormous data gap on gender within the Ukraine conflict and the importance of strengthening women's participation and women-led civil society in Ukraine, both East and West. It is critical that the international community support the continuation of Ukraine's National Action Plan on Gender Equality. PeaceWomen reiterates our support for this call and will continue to amplify the voices of women peacemakers in resolving the conflict.