International Women's Day: Are Women the Better Crisis Managers?

More+More+ ♦ Published: March 8, 2022; 15:33 ♦ (Vindobona)

Whether Ukraine, Afghanistan or the COVID-19 pandemic - women and girls were and are disproportionately affected by these crises and conflicts: Gender-based violence, poverty and school dropouts increase rapidly in times of crisis. This must be counteracted in a targeted manner.

UN Women received five million euros from Austria in September 2021. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Karl Maria Stadler (1888 – nach 1943), Public domain

"The current events in Ukraine in particular show us once again that we must always actively advocate for peace and sustainable conflict solutions. To do this, we need everyone who is affected to be on board - especially women", said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. "Global responses must always take a gender perspective into account - women must have a decisive say in those decisions that affect them."

"For this reason", he said, "it is a moral and human obligation to support women and girls, whose lives are currently at stake in the war in Ukraine and have been at considerable risk since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan".

For Ukraine, the Austrian government most recently put together an emergency aid package totaling 17.5 million euros to alleviate the suffering of the people on the ground.

In Afghanistan, UN Women received five million euros from Austria in September 2021.

The aim is to give even greater consideration to the needs of women and girls in humanitarian aid, to strengthen the participation of Afghan women in political decision-making processes and to support women human rights defenders.

In addition, the funds will be used to establish women's centers in Afghanistan, where they are most urgently needed.

Schallenberg is convinced that anyone who stands up for women and their rights internationally must start at "home:

"It is important for me to set a good example. We are continuing to work on steadily increasing the proportion of women in the diplomatic service and are encouraging our female colleagues to apply for management positions and to make greater use of training and development opportunities."

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

In addition to humanitarian aid and development cooperation, the Foreign Ministry is also committed to women, their needs and rights in all of its other international fields of activity:

"As a member of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the world's largest and most important forum for gender equality and women's rights, Austria will make a special contribution to the 14-25 March session on the issue of the impact of climate change and environmental disasters on women and girls."

In the field of cultural work abroad, it has been possible in recent years to increase the proportion of women at events and programs abroad to as much as 45%.

In addition to already established and proven programs for the advancement of women, a new, innovative program entitled "Calliope 2.0" is to be presented this year.

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs