8 March 2020, Kyiv.

"The theme of 2020 International Women’s Day is: “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.

Today, I call on the Presidency and the new Government of Ukraine to be Generation Equality and make Ukrainian women’s rights a reality! You have the power and the opportunity to make this happen!

Ukraine has made important strides towards ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women. The increase in women’s representation in the Verkhovna Rada through last year’s elections from 11% to 21% per cent is one tangible sign of this progress. That said, like other countries around the world, there is still a long way to go for Ukrainian women to achieve equal rights and equal opportunities.

In the words of the UN Secretary General: “the time has come to stop trying to change women, and to start changing the systems and power imbalances that prevent them from achieving their potential”. Now is the time to get more women into decision-making in all spheres, ensuring that the most marginalized groups of women and girls are not left behind. Ukraine should also expedite action towards the elimination of violence against women and girls, including by joining the Istanbul Convention, which it signed in 2011, but has not yet ratified.

Ahead of today’s celebration I spent the past days visiting communities severely affected by the ongoing hostilities in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. I witnessed peoples’ heartbreaking suffering, but also their inspiring perseverance and dogged determination to overcome hardship and to build a better future for their families and for this country. To a large extent, this is a tribute to the women of Ukraine, who even in the most adverse of circumstances, exercise extraordinary leadership – in their homes, in their communities, in their businesses – and hopefully in the future – in all spheres of public life.

As I convey my congratulations to all Ukrainian women on this important day, I call for ‘turbo action’ to advance gender equality in Ukraine.

Today I wish to pay special tribute to the women I have met across this great country, my heroes: the head of Families and Youth Department of Donetsk Oblast and her Deputy - champions for combatting gender-based violence and embedding gender targets in municipal budgets; the fabulous trainers of young mediators, today equipped to manage conflict and be leaders for non-violent conflict resolution; the women community leaders of Novhorodske – forceful drivers behind the new innovative ‘inter-generational community center’ and ‘community historical-cultural club’, as well as the formation of new NGOs, including the “Women’s Studio of Civil Initiatives”; the tough biology teacher in Druzhba school, hailed by the school principal as the best in the country; and last but not least, the women who support the most vulnerable living in conflict-affected Novotoshkivske and Orikhove. I congratulate you and all the other women public servants, community mobilizers, humanitarian workers and volunteers, who, like you, not for the pay check or for the glory, but out of belief and commitment, are moving your country forward towards a path of peace, social progress, and full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The United Nations in Ukraine is proud to stand behind your efforts and remains committed to work with you and all the women and men of Ukraine to achieve social justice and gender equality. Together we can do it".

Osnat Lubrani,

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine