Volume 149, Issue 123
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I also rise to speak to International Women’s Day. This year’s International Women’s Day celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action — a key global policy document on gender equality.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has noted that the declaration was signed as “the devastating conflict in the former Yugoslavia prompted deserved attention to rape and other war crimes there against civilians.”
Two decades later, real progress has been made in many parts of world. Yet, women and girls continue to struggle for their rights, particularly in the world’s conflict and refugee situations.
The Beijing Declaration recognizes that:
While entire communities suffer the consequences of armed conflict and terrorism, women and girls are particularly affected because of their status in society and their sex.
It also includes some of the earliest international commitments to:
Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living in situations of armed and other conflicts or under foreign occupation.
One of the leading symbols of women’s bravery in situations of armed struggle and foreign occupation today is Ms. Nadiya Savchenko.
Thirty-three-year-old Nadiya Savchenko is a Ukrainian air force pilot and a member of Parliament. Since last June 18, she has been a political prisoner in the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine. Captured by separatists and abducted into Russia, she is accused of complicity in the deaths of two Russian journalists and of “illegally crossing the border.” No evidence has been produced to support these accusations; yet, Savchenko’s detention has been repeatedly extended.
The Minsk protocols signed last September call for the “immediate release of all hostages and illegally detained persons.”
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, United States senators and others have called for Savchenko’s release — all to no avail.
Now in the eighty-eighth day of a hunger strike, concerns are growing for Savchenko’s health.
Savchenko has repeatedly stated that she will continue her hunger strike:
— as long as necessary so that my people have the right to be Ukrainians in Ukrainian lands, to live truthfully, honestly, and according to their conscience, to determine their own fates.
Whether in peace or in conflict, all women should enjoy such basic human rights and dignities. Sadly, too many do not.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it! Let us here in the Senate support Nadiya Savchenko’s immediate release and let us use her example to reaffirm our commitment to the empowerment of women everywhere who suffer daily.