Panel on “Responding to the Invasion of Ukraine: The Impact of Feminist Foreign Policies”

Friday, April 29, 2022
On April 22, 2022, the Women and Gender in Global Affairs Network at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Permanent Missions of Sweden and Ukraine to the United Nations together with co-sponsors hosted an online discussion on “Responding to the Invasion of Ukraine: The Impact of Feminist Foreign Policies.” The webinar brought together policymakers, analysts, and practitioners to discuss responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Click here to watch a recording of the panel.
Moderated and introduced by  Yasmine Ergas, Chair of the WGGA Network and Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Gender and Public Policy Specialization at Columbia University, the event featured:
  • Anna Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN
  • Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN
  • Antje Leendertse, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN
  • Richard Arbeiter, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN
  • Oksana Pokalchuk, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ukraine
  • Oksana Potapova, Women’s Rights and Peace Activist from Ukraine
  • Åsa Regnér, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women
  • Kateryna Levchenko, Government Commissioner for Gender Policy, Ukraine
The panel discussed the immediate gendered impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: more than 11 million people have fled or become internally displaced, among which 95 percent are women and children; basic services have been disrupted and most caretakers and humanitarian assistance distributors remaining in the conflict zones are women; the deeply shocking reports of massacres, sexual and gender-based violence as well as its reproductive rights consequences, and human trafficking continue to emerge as the conflict evolves. Panelists discussed the multiple ways in which gender can, and must, be taken into account in responding to the conflict in Ukraine, the importance of amplifying the voices of Ukrainian women, who are at the frontline of humanitarian and other response efforts, and the importance of taking into account representation, rights and resources in order to articulate and implement effective policies. 
The representatives of the Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) countries highlighted the need to ensure a holistic security approach that includes not only women but people in all their diversity, and tackle violence and discrimination as a result of gender identity and sexual orientation. The FFP countries also shared concrete examples of assistance that they have provided to Ukraine and to the NGOs and UN agencies who best understand the needs of those affected. FFP countries pledged to carry on advocating for the feminist foreign policy agenda in different fora.
The civil society representatives pointed to the disproportionate impact of the war on women and children, especially, those who remain in the conflict zones and are highly at risk of gender-based violence as a weapon of war. The global impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine, for example, price increases, food shortages, and even wider threats to democracy and freedom were also emphasized. They stressed the immediate need to not only hold Russia accountable but also limit the delivery of weapons to Russia and put a stop to the violence. Finally, the civil society representatives called for the continuation of support, funding, and empowerment of Ukrainian voices.  
We are extremely grateful to our distinguished speakers for their participation in the panel, and to all those who attended the event live and contributed to the discussion by submitting questions related to the WPS agenda, childcare, sexual and reproductive health and rights, the long and short-term impact of the militarization of communities, accountability for gender-based violence crimes and the role of the international bodies in mitigating the conflict, among other issues.
We recognize the importance of these issues and hope that this event can promote further discussion of the role of FFPs and feminist approaches in supporting the people of Ukraine and in responding to crises and conflicts in general.
We want to recognize and give special thanks to our event hosts and co-sponsors for making this event possible. 
Hosts: Permanent Missions of Sweden and Ukraine to the UN, and Columbia University’s Women and Gender in Global Affairs Network at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights.
Co-sponsors: Institute for the Study of Human Rights, UN Women, Permanent Missions of Canada and Germany to the UN and Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and School of International and Public Affairs' Gender and Public Policy Specialization, International Security Policy Concentration, the Kent Global Leadership Program on Conflict Resolution, the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and the Harriman Institute’s Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies.