On 31 October 2023, a Ukrainian delegation kicked off the Feminist Foreign Policy Community Festival with a panel session on ‘Promoting a gender transformative recovery of Ukraine’. The Ukraine Government Commissioner for Gender Policy and outspoken Ukrainian women activists discussed the need for a gender lens in a recovery strategy for Ukraine, moderated by Gisela Duetting.
Firstly, Government Commissioner, Kateryna Levchenko, stressed that ticking the box for gender equality is not enough, but real action is needed."Without women, we will not be able to recover and rebuild Ukraine”.Natalia Karbowska, Director Strategic Development of the Ukrainian Women Fund, highlighted: "women are not only the victims, they are the solutions, the leaders”.Formalizing female positions and mainstreaming gender in working groups on recovery are crucial steps, which should be taken right now, as recovery has already started.
Secondly, the delegation stressed the importance of the inclusion of a local perspective. Iryna Kolkovska, Head of Lutsk City Council and NGO ‘Development of Volyn’,expressed the need to includethe perspective from women from remote or rural areas in action plans for recovery. Especially when men return from the front as heroes and receive all the attention, attention also needs to be paid to women’s voices, mental health and rehabilitation. Moreover, Anzhelika Belova, President of NGO Association of Roma Women, urged for the inclusion of Roma women's needs in recovery planning and dialogue.
Lastly, the Feminist Foreign Policy of the Netherlands as a donor, can support the Ukrainians women's movement. The delegation emphasised that grants should be feminist, which means they are flexible and built on trust. The concept of civil society being a critical friend should be key. Moreover, listening, learning from each other and exchanging best practices between women’s organisations can influence policies for the better.
Picture by Holland Park Media.