Statement on address by the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on Gender

Delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Marit Halsvik Lillealtern at the Permanent Council, Vienna, 21 July 2022.

Thank you.

We thank the special representative Ms. Palihovici for her report, and for her work throughout the past year.

We welcome Ms. Palihovici’s emphasis on the importance of implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda throughout the OSCE region, and join her calls to increase support to promotion of women’s equal participation and women entrepreneurship.

Ms Palihovici’s focus has however been on the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We appreciate that she has travelled to several participating States to monitor the situation for refugees. Her recommendations in this regard are timely and important, and helpful also for other participating States.

The war has a gendered impact – it affects women and men, girls and boys differently. Let me highlight two issues in this regard:

First, the high number of survivor accounts of rape and other forms of sexual and gender‑ based violence. Children will be born of war. Their rights and wellbeing - and those of their mothers - must be ensured. Second, the high risk of trafficking, as displaced people seek safety across borders.

This week, we have discussed the issue of trafficking during the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting. Special representative Richey urged further work on systems to adequately identify victims, and we heard calls from civil society for more support to victims and survivors. First and foremost, participating States must take steps to prevent trafficking from happening in the first place, both from Ukraine and from other countries. Better control over the digital sphere was pointed to as essential to discourage the demand that fosters trafficking of human beings, especially sexual exploitation.

We underline the importance of gender and age differentiated responses to meet the needs of the civilian population of Ukraine - including IDPs and refugees. This must include access to mental health and psychosocial support, and sexual and reproductive health services for all – regardless of the gender indicated in their passport.

Mr. Chair,

Foreign Minister Lavrov’s recent statement about Russia’s increased territorial war aims is completely unacceptable. Russia bears full responsibility for the unspeakable human suffering and tragedies, the loss of so many lives, massive displacement, and destruction across Ukraine. To end the suffering, we call on Russia to immediately and unconditionally stop its war of aggression.

Thank you