Women should play a larger role in the peace process in Ukraine, according to Ambassador Miroslava Beham, the senior adviser on Gender Issues at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Beham made her comments Thursday after concluding a four-day visit to the war-torn country, saying that support is needed for internally displaced persons and victims of domestic violence in Ukraine.
"It is clear that the changing circumstances are bringing a new urgency to the cause of gender equality as it is imperative to include all segments of society in conflict resolution, peace-building and reconciliation efforts,” said Beham in a statement. "For instance, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, an overwhelming majority of internally displaced persons are women and are in urgent need of assistance that is properly targeted to their requirements.”
Some 610,000 Ukrainians are displaced within the border of their own country. Most of them stay with families in the western part of the country, hundreds of miles away from the fighting that drove them away from their homes, according to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees. Others are stuck in makeshift homes in former offices, warehouses and even summer camps. The UNHCR is seeking $40 million to help them over the next year.
Authorities are in the process of creating a National Action Plan to ensure that a U.N. Security Council resolution on women’s issues is properly implemented, Beham said. Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security calls on parties to actively prevent rape and other gender-based violence, and to incorporate women in peace planning efforts to ensure they are not disregarded as progress is made.
Ukrainian military officials are debating a possible mobilization of Ukrainian women who are no younger than 20 years old in an effort to bolster their security forces in 2015. Ukraine is in the middle of its fourth mobilization period, scheduled to continue through April. Women as old as 50 could be brought together and trained as officers and women up to the age of 40 could be added for support roles, according to Newsweek.