The Norwegian Helsinki Committee calls upon Ukrainian authorities to protect the events taking place 8 March, on occasion of the International Women’s Day. This Sunday there will be events in Kyiv, Lviv, Kherson, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv and Uzhgorod.
– This important day is becoming more important in Ukraine, every year. More events with more people taking part. At the same time we know that these events are continuously attacked by far-right groups, often without the police taking adequate action, says Mina Skouen, Head of Department for Sexual and Gender Diversity.
Attacks by far-right groups
– Far right groups are on the rise in Ukraine, they are armed and are responsible for multiple attacks every year. Like so many other places in Europe, the women’s movement is considered to be among their main enemies.
The right-wing extremists view women activists as a threat to traditional family values, calling the struggle for gender equality for ‘gender ideology’. Women’s rights activist face continuous threats both online and offline.
In 2018 NHCs colleague Olena Shevchenko, head of the organization Insight was charged for the content of one of the banners at the 8 March event, instead of far-right activists attacking the event and injuring at least seven people with tear gas and impact weapons. During her trial, where she was acquitted of the charges, the courtroom and hallways were filled with right-wing activists as well as observers and supporters of Shevchenko.
She is one of 12 human rights defenders featured in the Norwegian Helsinki Committees campaign #12 women on the barricades.
Support from NHC Emergency fund
This year NHC has chosen to support safety measures for the Kyiv event through our Emergency fund (Krisefondet). 8 March is a unique opportunity to raise questions related to the problems faced by women in Ukraine. This is connected to the general position of women in society, as well as conditions for women human rights defenders, and groups of women suffering from multiple discrimination such as lesbian, bisexual and trans women, internally displaced women, women with disabilities, ethnic minorities and others.
– Ensuring protection for the people taking part in the 8 March events is an opportunity for Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate their commitment to human rights and democratic values, and for the police to show that they are able and willing to protect the safety of all its citizens against the threats from far-right groups, says Skouen.
– We are proud to be able to support this important event and wish the organizers the best of luck on Sunday.