Mr. President, Lord Ahmad,
I would like to begin by thanking you and welcoming you for chairing this meeting. I would also like to thank Ms. Bahous, Mr. Fontaine, and Ms. Cherepakha for their briefings and insights shared.
When this Council adopted the Women, Peace and Security agenda more than 21 years ago, it recognized the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls. Women are not only exposed to grave violations of international humanitarian law, but are particularly vulnerable to gender-specific risks as well.
However, the WPS agenda also recognized that women and girls are active agents of peace who can drive efforts and provide solutions. Their participation in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, reconciliation, and reconstruction must be guaranteed, not only because of the impact the conflict has on them, but also because it has proved to result in more sustainable and longer lasting peace.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of the 4.3 million people who have fled to neighboring countries are women and children. There have been deeply disturbing reports of conflict-related sexual violence and those who have fallen prey to criminal organized gangs running human and sex trafficking rings. According to the WHO, there have been 89 health care facilities across the country impacted by attacks, undermining the right of women and girls to access healthcare. This contributes to a lack of critical maternity care for pregnant women both within Ukraine and for those fleeing abroad, as UNFPA has warned. Finally, the conflict is disrupting children’s access to education. Every child has a right to education, and this can further block their opportunities and capabilities to contribute to Ukraine’s future. This risks a generational effect.
Accordingly, the UAE would like to highlight three areas to support women and children impacted by the war in Ukraine:
First, we see the ongoing negotiations between the parties as a positive development, and we call on them to guarantee women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in all peace efforts. It is imperative that women’s leadership and participation not only take place at the end of the conflict, but also in the design and implementation processes for its peaceful resolution. Women have been leading local reconciliation and dialogue efforts for many years now in eastern Ukraine. These efforts should not be forgotten. Rather, they should be recognized, built upon, and mobilized to drive efforts towards peace.
Second, sex-disaggregated data collection on the impact of the conflict remains a valuable tool, including in strengthening accountability for conflict-related sexual violence. This can ensure that restorative justice can be achieved.
Third, a gender-responsive approach must be implemented in all humanitarian efforts during and after the conflict. This should include the voices of women, who can inform the provision and delivery of humanitarian assistance, services, and programming efforts with their needs at the center. We also call on all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the protection of civilians and to allow timely and unimpeded humanitarian access.
I want to highlight the disproportionate consequences that this war has on women and children around the world. From food insecurity to high commodity prices, women and girls worldwide are seeing their daily lives, and their futures, upended. More than ever, we need concerted efforts to prevent that from happening. The stakes are too high.
In conclusion, we reiterate our strong call for an immediate cessation of hostilities throughout Ukraine to allow for constructive dialogue between the parties and to end the suffering caused by this conflict.
Thank you, Mr. President.