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Forty thousand Ukrainian women right now are on the frontlines…
– Oksana Horbunova

Vital Voices kicked off Women’s History Month with a high-level panel discussion on the essential role of Ukrainian women leaders in responding to the Russian invasion. Panelists included Ambassador Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the USA, Katrina Fotovat, the Senior Official for the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, and Ukrainian Human Rights Activist Oksana Horbunova. The discussion was moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University, who served as the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues in 2009. 

Held in the wake of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the discussion focused on the heroic efforts of Ukrainian women as they continue to respond to the war’s devastation.

“Forty thousand Ukrainian women right now are on the frontlines,” noted Horbunova, who joined the panel via Zoom from Ukraine. “At the same time, Ukrainian woman are demonstrating outstanding solidarity, leadership, and courage to deliver support to the most vulnerable people.” 

The panelists also highlighted the role of the international community, which they called on to support the people of Ukraine in this pivotal moment. Ambassador Markarova spoke on the need to hold war criminals accountable for the egregious offenses committed against Ukranian people and the urgency of maintaining momentum. “For all of us who believe in the same values… for all of who believe in peace, it’s existential for all of us to win,” she said. “We can only get to last in peace if there is accountability for what they’ve done to us.” 

The discussion concluded on a hopeful note, with an urgent call to action from Ambassador Markarova: “We have to stay the course together. Continue helping our amazing women back home… because they are the ones winning it at the battlefront but also everywhere in Ukraine. If we just stay together and stay united, we will win this one. I have no doubt.”

If we just stay together and stay united, we will win this one. I have no doubt.
– Ambassador Markarova