Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a speech in the German Parliament 'Bundestag' in Berlin, Germany, for the Ukraine Recovery Conference. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER


Ukraine Recovery Conference to focus on ‘green recovery and gender mainstreaming’


European and wider Western Ukraine allies are thinking about the country’s progressive future as it fights for survival against Russia.

At the Ukraine Recovery Conference on June 11 and 12 in Berlin, a major focus of attention is “Gender Mainstreaming and Female Leadership”.

One of the goals of Ukraine’s international partners is to ensure a “gender-responsive and inclusive recovery for Ukraine”, according to the conference manifesto.

On the morning of the first day, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, all spoke.

The event was first held in 2017 before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

While there had been a low-intensity conflict with Russia since 2014, the conference originally worked on internal reform in Ukraine. Since the intensification of Moscow’s assault on the country, the focus has shifted toward reconstruction.

This year, “hard” topics such as defence and economic recovery will be focused on by a number of foreign and economy ministers, alongside top administrators of international financial institutions.

However, on the evening of June 11, there was a discussion on “Green Recovery and European Green Deal for Ukraine”, covering “Conditions for an Environmentally Friendly Recovery and Growth”.

On June 12, the second day is more focused on feminism and gender equality.

Progressive civil representatives and NGO’s will discuss how to ensure what is termed gender-equitable and inclusive reconstruction in Ukraine.

There are plans to launch an alliance for gender-responsive recovery.

Then, on the evening of June 12, before the closing plenary, there will be room to talk about the “Green transition as a business case”.

Participants on that panel include Iryna Postolovska, Deputy Minister of Social Policy in Ukraine, Kateryna Levchenko, the country’s Government Commissioner for Gender Policy, Kirsi Madi, Deputy Executive Director for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships at the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, and Lenna Koszarny, CEO of private equity fund Horizon Capital and a representative of international NGOs.

On June 10, some of the speakers slated to appear at the conference published an open letter, pushing for gender equality, saying the conference should be more ambitious.

“Recovery and reconstruction plans and strategies as well as the Alliance for Gender-responsive and Inclusive Recovery should have the ambition to transform gender norms, not just to ‘respond’, to achieve gender equality,” the letter stated.

They also said they wanted women’s rights groups and women-led organisations to have a bigger say in decision-making and to receive more funding.

“The full, equal, meaningful, safe and direct participation of diverse women, girls and marginalised groups in all decision-making processes … is key to formulating and delivering a recovery agenda that is equitable, inclusive and gender-responsive,” they said.

“Unless gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is deliberately made central to recovery processes now, systemic barriers facing women and girls and their organisations to meaningfully contribute to the humanitarian response (e.g. improving but still limited participation, difficulty to access quality funding for women’s rights and women-led organisations) will be replicated in Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery process, deepening existing gender inequality,” the letter read.