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Supporting Women Survivors of the War in Ukraine

 

“We know how it feels to lose everything. Our town is destroyed and occupied. We lost our houses, our homes. This scary feeling when you understand that this is really danger. You can die at any moment.” Kateryna Shuh, Vice-President, Bereginia

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has shattered the lives of millions of people. A third of Ukrainians have been been forced from their homes, making this the world’s fastest and one of the largest human displacement crisis since World War II. Women and children make up the majority of those both internally displaced and those who have fled the war to neighboring countries. 

Allegations of conflict-related sexual violence in Ukraine are commonplace. The United Nations has collected more than a hundred such reports but believes that number is just the “tip of the iceberg”.   

Women survivors of sexual violence and those who’ve been displaced are finding it difficult to come to terms with their trauma. They need urgent psychological and medical help as well as vital practical support to rebuild their lives. 

“When your house has been destroyed, your relatives killed and it seems that life is over and darkness and evil surround you, it is important to offer a ray of hope. To show the dawn is coming soon, to extend a hand of support and start taking the first steps towards a normal life together.” Iryna Andreeva, Co-Founder, The Andreev Foundation 

Through our Conflict Response Fund, Women for Women International is determined to reach as many women as we can, as quickly as we can.  We’ve teamed up with local organizations in Ukraine and in Poland to provide women survivors with holistic and comprehensive care, including psychosocial support, counselling services as well as skill-based training. 

Our Partners & Programs

Our response has been led by our sister organization Žene za Žene International. Its Director, Seida Sarić, lived through the siege of Sarajevo and has built up a highly effective program for survivors of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Not long after the war in Ukraine started, Seida and her team conducted a critical needs assessment and met with local organizations that focused on the needs of women and children fleeing from the war. 

Bereginia, The Mariupol Women’s Association  

Ukrainian Refugees heal
Art Therapy Session at Bereginia.

Alongside Bereginia and HumanDoc Foundation in Poland, we serve women and children evacuated from Mariupol. Many of them spent weeks in shelters and cellars without access to water, heating, or food and are severely traumatized from their experience. 

Together with our partners, we offer dedicated spaces for women refugees to gather and psychosocial support, including art therapy, to begin the healing process.

As they adapt to life in a new country, we also provide legal counsel, vocational skills so the women can become financially independent and support obtaining accommodation. 

Refugees from Ukraine themselves, the mother and daughter team Myrna and Kateryna who lead Bereginia, share the pain of the women we serve. It gives them a unique and powerful insight into supporting their needs. 

 

Kateryna shares her harrowing journey, grappling with survivors guilt and how difficult it is to come to terms with being called a refugee.

The Andreev Foundation  

Iryna
Iryna Andreeva, Co-Founder, The Andreev Foundation

Together with The Andreev Foundation, we’re supporting mobile teams of psychologists who travel to reach women survivors in areas of Ukraine that were formerly occupied by the Russians.  

Women who survive conflict-related sexual violence are often reluctant to come forward and access help. Following their ordeal, many women describe a sense of apathy,  

“Women survivors of war in Ukraine tell us they don’t know how to deal with what’s happened to them. They speak about losing the will to live, a “black void” and struggling to look after themselves and their children.” Iryna Andreeva, Co-Founder, The Andreev Foundation in Ukraine 

We build trust with women in those communities, providing survivors of sexual violence with psychological aid as well as raising awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, in order to support larger numbers of women suffering from war-related trauma. 

We’re also providing skills training for internally displaced women to access new job opportunities. In addition, for those women survivors of sexual violence who are in the occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, with our partner we’re setting up a hotline for women to receive psychological counselling.

DOM4824  

We’re supporting women who’ve been internally displaced to regain their financial independence, alongside local women’s rights organization Dom4824. We’re setting up a co-working beauty salon in Ivano-Frankivsk for several women to offer beauty and cosmetic treatments. The space will also provide occupational therapy and practical training for other women IDPS to learn the skills they need to start their own business.  

Woman has arms wrapped around child in her lap

Your donation will help provide Ukrainian war survivors a safe space for rehabilitation as well as medical care that includes psychological and gynecological consultations with doctors.