‘Europe must send message of support to all Russian women arrested for protesting Putin’

Metsola: war has returned to Europe and women and girls were once again, as in other crises, among the first victims

European Parliament Roberta Metsola
European Parliament Roberta Metsola

A Ukrainian MP has described Russian president Vladimir Putin as the “Hitler of our times” following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine 14 days ago.

Inna Sovsun was speaking to MaltaToday during a press seminar organised by the European Parliament to mark International Women's Day and give Ukrainian women MPs a platform. 

Delivering the keynote speech, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola expressed support for a plan proposed by Poland to transfer its Russian-made fighter planes to a US base in Germany to be passed on to the Ukraine.

She told MaltaToday that Ukraine would welcome such a decision, although the US has since distanced itself from Poland’s proposal, citing no prior knowledge of such a move.

Sovsun was answering questions by the media during a hybrid seminar with members of the Ukrainian Parliament, European Parliament president Roberta Metsola, members of the EP’s Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), and other expert speakers invited to discuss women's issues as well as the situation in Ukraine ahead of International women’s day.

“If we get the fighter jets we think that will work, we are willing to accept that proposal, we are really hoping for that,” Sovsun said. “Putin has already used cluster bombs and vacuum bombs, Putin only responds to force, the more we wait the more he commits atrocious crimes.”

She recounted instances of families sheltering for weeks in freezing basements and of a three-year-old child who lost a leg from bomb shrapnel after yet another attack on a non-military, non-strategic target.

“They are shelling our residential areas. They are shooting random people on the streets just because they can. This is a catastrophe... a genocide,” she said.

Metsola said war has returned to Europe and that women and girls were once again, as in other crises, among the first victims.

“Over 1.5 million peaceful Ukrainian civilians have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety with most of these refugees being women and children and those are just the ones that got out,” she said.

Europe needed to send a strong message of support to all the Russian women getting arrested for protesting Putin's rule.

Metsola said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the danger faced by women and girls in situations like domestic violence.

Robert Biedroń, chair of the FEMM committee, agreed, citing the findings of a recent survey commissioned by the EU as illustrative of the great need for these measures and reforms. “What we found out is that 77% thinks that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase of the violence against women in their country,” he said. “We see clearly that girls and women are the first victims of this pandemic, and we are calling for urgent action to remedy this.”

FEMM member Samira Rafaela (Renew) said that the principle of equal pay for equal work of equal value was already enshrined in the EU treaties since 1957. “But across the EU, the gender pay gap remains around 14% and this is a serious obstacle to making any of our gender equality goals also a reality.”

Fellow MEP Kira Marie Peter-Hansen (Greens) said that more women were needed on companies’ boards and in STEM fields: “We need to tackle to roots of this discrimination.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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