Former Minister of Defence Andriy Zahorodnyuk: “Women at service in the conflict zone are more trusted than men”

15% of women work within civil-military cooperation in the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine, former Minister of Defence Andriy Zahorodnyuk said during the discussion on peacebuilding.

“So called female CIMICs are trusted by the local population much more. They are often unarmed, they come to the villages, visit the locals. It is one of the best examples how Armed Forces can keep the peace in the government controlled territories,” Mr Zahorodnyuk said.

MP Iryna Herashchenko believes the women involved in peacekeeping show great results. She quoted the research of the UN Women, devoted to twentieth anniversary of the 1325 Resolution: “Analyzing more than 40 conflicts since 1991, even if they lasted for 15-20 years, women’s participation increased the chances for peace by 35%. It may be caused by the fact that women treat the peacekeeping not just as work, but also as their mission and part of the life,” Ms Herashchenko said.

She also reminded that the woman was the first head of the Ministry for Veterans and IDPs (later transformed into the Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories). “There was a discussion in the veteran community that a veteran has to become the first Minister. Our position was different: the first Minister had to organize the infrastructure and give the veterans the opportunity to lead it later,” Ms Herashchenko said.

The Deputy Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories highlighted that there are families from temporarily occupied territories, where women with children have left while the men stayed. It is typical for the territories located close to the contact line, when the men have to stay in the occupied territories for some reason. These women have additional economic burden. “One of the key problems for the internally displaced women is not just that their families broke, they also have additional economic burden, they are responsible for their families and at the same time do the domestic work,” the Deputy Minister said.

Commander Rachel Agelou, United Nations Humanitarian-Military Negotiator, advised to cover the war not only through the men’s eyes, but also take into account the women’s vision. “We have encouraged the right story to be told. I know that conflict is very unequally weighted against women and girls. However, in my experience, there are some strong successful experiences of engagement with women and successful contribution of women in peacebuilding,” Ms Agelou said.

Tobias Thyberg, Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine, said that next year, when Sweden will be an OSCE Chair, the country will preserve its values – human rights. The Ambassador believes Ukraine achieved good results in the negotiations on Donbas. “You have come up with imaginative ideas and tactics of how to deal with the conflict. Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov has shown ambition, imagination and courage in how he wants to deal with this conflict. You have reimagined the Ukrainian negotiating delegation. You have included Ukrainians who have been displaced from the territories which are currently under occupation, faith leaders, media, MPs. This is an extremely powerful contrast with Russian negotiation delegation,” the Ambassador said.

Osnat Lubrani, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, highlighted the importance of engaging the civil society in peacebuilding. “It’s not only about the numbers of how many seats are there. When peace negotiations are written, there is also a gender perspective about how to prevent the conflict, what needs to be done on issues such as gender based violence. The General Secretary takes these issues very committed about parity within the UN on the highest positions. Yet Ukraine still has low political participation of women and our peacekeeping mission also suffers from gender imbalance,” Ms Lubrani said.