Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Ukrainian women continue to stand up against Russian aggression and speak up for justice and peace: UK statement to the OSCE [March 2024]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 7 March 2024.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, Ambassador Holland notes the bravery of Ukrainian women and girls as Russia’s senseless war has devastating impacts on them.

Thank you, Madam Chair. This week in the lead up to International Women’s Day, we have been celebrating the accomplishments of women across the world. With that in mind, today I wish to highlight the courage and resilience of Ukrainian women, as they continue to stand up against Russian aggression and speak up for justice and peace.

Over the past two years, Russia’s senseless war has had a devastating impact on the lives of Ukrainian women and girls. Families have been torn apart, with many women suddenly becoming sole caregivers and providers. Mothers have faced the difficult decision to send their children to safety, while they remain in a warzone. Others have had their children forcibly taken from them. Many women and girls that remain in Ukraine have faced further trauma, with Russian forces committing terrible atrocities against them. And others have had their lives tragically cut short.

The wide-spread impact of Russia’s war on Ukrainian women cannot be ignored. And yet despite this, we continue to hear stories of women who symbolise hope and resilience. Such as, Vera Lytochenko, a violinist who decided to stay in Ukraine and play music for people hiding in bomb shelters to lift their spirits and soothe the frightened children. Or Iryna Yurchenko, a train conductor, who since the start of Russia’s war has helped evacuate people to safety with great bravery.

Ukrainian women have played a crucial role in defending their homeland with thousands of women serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, others have been instrumental to humanitarian, political, and security efforts. And Ukrainian women have refused to be silenced, coming forward with courage to document the horrific atrocities Russian Forces have committed against them, including sexual violence and torture.

To ensure justice is delivered, the UK has provided over £6 million to support projects aimed at building the domestic capacity of war crimes investigations. This has helped to embed international guidelines and best practice, including on survivor-centred approaches, through projects under the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group and work by the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative Team of Experts.

The UK has also been working closely with Ukrainian actors involved in tackling conflict related sexual violence, including First Lady Zelenska who we were pleased to welcome to the UK last week. The First Lady’s visit provided an opportunity to reflect and discuss collaboration with her Foundation on mental health and psychosocial support.

The UK is proud to be a leading donor in supporting Ukrainian women, girls, and the most excluded groups. In recognition of their vital contributions on the frontline and in their communities, the UK set up new funding last year to provide critical support. This included helping the Ukrainian Women’s Fund and local women-led organisations deliver live-saving services. Our support has also addressed the needs and priorities of the most marginalised, including internally displaced persons, Roma, and older persons.

Madam Chair, the UK will continue to support the women of Ukraine as they work to rebuild their homeland from the damage and devastation of Russia’s war. We remain deeply humbled by their remarkable bravery and we stand united with them. Thank you.