Russia-Ukraine war has 'severe and disproportionate' impact on women, UN hears

UAE hosted day-long Security Council talks on private companies helping women in war zones

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Ireland’s top diplomat Simon Coveney on Tuesday marked International Women’s Day by slamming Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for its “severe and disproportionate” impact on women and girls.

Speaking in New York, the Irish foreign minister said the “eyes of the world are currently on Ukraine”, where Russian forces are accused of shelling a humanitarian corridor established to let Mariupol residents flee the bombed-out port city.

“Our thoughts are with its people, including the vulnerable women and girls of Ukraine who are facing such trauma and hardship, huddled together in makeshift bomb shelters, or trapped in cities brutalised by war,” he said.

More than two million people have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

UN Women says women and children are particularly affected by armed conflict.

“On International Women's Day, we want the women and the girls of Ukraine to know that we salute their resilience and their courage,” said Mr Coveney during a two-day visit to New York for talks on the crisis in Eastern Europe.

“This conflict is having a severe and disproportionate impact on them. We stand with them now and into the future.”

He spoke at a UN Security Council meeting headed by Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the UAE, which holds a temporary seat on the council and its presidency for the month of March.

Members take turns holding the council’s presidency each month, during which they manage the agenda, preside over meetings and decide on topics for debate.

Ms Al Mheiri argued that women too often take a back seat when countries descend into violence.

“Women must not only benefit from sustainable post-conflict recovery, they must be in the driver's seat as planners, decision-makers and implementers in all sectors of society to ensure sustainable peace-building,” she said.

She also said private companies can play “unique and multidimensional roles” to “improve women's individual livelihoods, autonomy and self-sufficiency in fragile settings” and help them “rebuild their nations”.

The UAE, Albania, Brazil, Gabon and Ghana joined the UN council for two-year terms beginning on January 1, meaning they can take part in meetings, vote on resolutions and help draft official statements.

Updated: March 09, 2022, 7:13 AM