With women especially affected by crisis, we are stepping up to meet their needs in Ukraine.
In just a few days, the lives of Ukrainian women have been shattered by the Russian invasion. Russia continues to attack residential areas, killing and injuring civilians. 2.8 million refugees have fled Ukraine so far—most of them women and children. This is the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II and Women for Women International is compelled to act.
When war and insecurity take hold, women bear the heaviest burden of violence, poverty, and inequality. Of the 82.4 million people currently displaced from their homes, 80% are women and children. Gender norms restrict women’s access to education and economic resources, exclude them from decision-making, and expose them to many forms of violence and abuse. Women are the targets of systematic rape and sexual violence, which is used as a weapon to terrorize and destroy communities.
We have heard from our supporters that they want to contribute.
So, we have agreed with Žene za Žene International, our affiliate in Bosnia & Herzegovina, to support their solidarity response for Ukraine. Our Director, Seida, who herself lived through the siege of Sarajevo and built up a highly effective program for survivors of war in Bosnia, is now leading our assessment of the needs of marginalized women in this conflict. She is evaluating how Women for Women International / Žene za Žene International can uniquely respond to meet them—whether they be displaced women in Ukraine who are being discriminated against, or women fleeing alone and at risk of trafficking or abuse.
Working with Žene za Žene International, we are actively seeking a local partner who will provide crucial women-centered services that are often overlooked in humanitarian aid during war and conflict. Services like:
- Dedicated, safer spaces for women to gather
- Gender-based violence counseling and prevention strategies
- Trauma-informed care and psychosocial support
- Vocational training and education for rebuilding livelihoods after conflict
Seida Saric, Director of Žene za Žene International says:
“Women for Women International was founded amid war in Europe 30 years ago. As you can imagine, the catastrophe of the Russian invasion reminds us of those days. We know what war is and how people helped us during that time. We also saw the power of bringing women together from across ethnic divides to provide practical and psychosocial support and to build peace.
Political leaders have been stoking ethnic tensions once again in our own region and we are scared because the war in Ukraine threatens to reignite a conflict in our own country that we hoped was behind us. Nevertheless, we feel it is our time to return the support we received and to help the women of Ukraine.”
In 2018, we launched our Conflict Response Fund to act quickly and reach women in emerging conflict zones around the world. We are able to meet this crisis in real time and identify credible partners on the ground by allocating resources to women in need.