Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine

Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine
Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström in Kiev. Photo: Gustav Sjöholm/TT
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is making her first visit to Ukraine, where she has urged leaders to press on with efforts to support women and cut corruption as tensions continue in the east of the country.
As well as using the trip to meet with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Sweden's Social Democrat Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is targeting what she describes as "strong female representatives" during the visit.
She told Sweden's TT news agency that she wanted to listen to Ukrainian women's "concerns and wishes" as part of a "feminist foreign policy" strategy, and said that she had scheduled appointments with female politicians and women's groups.
Less than ten percent of Members of Parliament are women in Ukraine, compared with more than forty percent in Sweden.
Wallström said she was aware that continuing tensions between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine had overshadowed efforts to promote gender equality and reduce corruption in Ukrainian politics.
"There is a consistency in their message," she said of the women she had spoken to.
"They said it is worrying that one can not see many concrete results," she added.
Wallström also used the visit to reveal that Sweden was "prepared to contribute further" to humanitarian funds aimed at people affected by the fighting in eastern Ukraine, where there is currently a fragile ceasefire between the two sides.
Sweden has already promised to donate 35 million kronor ($4.7m) in humanitarian aid.
Thousands of people have been displaced during the conflict and Wallström said that there was a need to help those facing "a difficult winter".

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