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Foreign Minister Schallenberg on International Women’s Day: We Need Women on Board to Navigate Crises”

AUSTRIA, March 7 - Whether it is in Ukraine, Afghanistan or the COVID-19 pandemic – women and girls are disproportionately affected by these crises and conflicts. In times of crisis, gender-specific violence, poverty, and school dropout rates rapidly increase. Targeted steps must be taken to prevent this:

In particular, the current events in Ukraine are once again showing us that we must always actively stand up for peace and sustainable conflict solutions. To do so, we need everyone involved to be on board – especially women,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. Global responses must always take the gender perspective into account, he noted – women must be active participants in the decisions that affect them.

For this reason, it is a moral and human obligation to support women and girls whose lives are currently at risk during the war in Ukraine, and those who have been gravely threatened by the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. For Ukraine, the Austrian government recently put together an emergency aid package totalling 17.5 million euros in order to ease people’s suffering on site. In Afghanistan, UN Women received five million euros from Austria in September 2021. This will allow humanitarian aid to consider the needs of women and girls even more extensively, strengthen Afghan women’s participation in political decision-making processes, and support the defenders of human rights. In addition, the funds will be used to build women’s centres in Afghanistan in places where they are most urgently needed.

Those who fight internationally for women and their rights, said Foreign Minister Schallenberg, must start in “their own backyard”:

It is important to me to set a good example. We are continuing to work on steadily increasing the share of women in the diplomatic service, and we encourage our female colleagues to apply for management positions and to take more advantage of additional training and continuing education offerings.

In the Foreign Ministry, four of seven section management positions are currently held by women, and the head of cabinet is also female.

In addition to humanitarian aid and development cooperation, the Foreign Ministry also supports women, their needs, and their rights in all of its other international areas of activity.

As a member of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the world’s largest and most important forum on equality and women’s rights, Austria will particularly spend the meeting from 14th to 15th March focussing on how the consequences of climate change and environmental disasters affect women and girls.

In recent years, the percentage of women in events and programs for international cultural activities abroad has grown to as much as 45%. In addition to the established and proven women’s support programmes, an innovative new programme called “Calliope 2.0” will be launched later this year.