With the aim of making their voices heard as much as possible, the 240 or so women represented in the Assembly set up the informal '[email protected]' group on 15 March.
The initiative seeks to facilitate exchanges between women members during and outside parliamentary sessions. It is a tool that will allow them to channel their initiatives, launch debates, consult, co-ordinate and discuss informally.
On the occasion of the extraordinary plenary Session on 14-15 March in Strasbourg, the group bore its first fruits in the form of coordinated support for women in Ukraine. The group had the opportunity to exchange views with the women members of the Ukrainian parliamentary delegation to discuss urgent needs and urgent responses.
"We stand in solidarity with you", said the women parliamentarians. They paid tribute to the exceptional courage and strength of women in Ukraine, and in particular to the women members of the Ukrainian delegation, led by their Chairperson Mariia Mezentseva, who participated in the PACE extraordinary plenary session.
The members present also made an urgent appeal to all women to act as "ambassadors for peace" and support the struggle of Ukrainian women to "live their lives again". However, they recalled that more empowerment is needed to ensure women's involvement in the peace process and at the negotiating table.
[email protected] group is organising a special consignment of flak jackets for women in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, as a gesture of solidarity with female colleagues who continue to carry out their democratic duties while under potential military attack.
Members of the Parliamentary Assembly are being invited to contribute to a fund to supply the specially-designed flak jackets – which are adapted to the female body shape – to the Verkhovna Rada’s 89 women MPs and female secretariat members.
“While war is ravaging Ukraine, the parliament continues to meet physically in Kyiv,” said Laima Andrikiene (Lithuania, EPP/CD), the main organiser of the initiative. “Given that the buildings of state institutions could be attacked at any time, the lives of MPs as public figures and the staff on duty are in constant danger.”