WPHF is channeling flexible institutional and programmatic funding to local civil society organizations and women’s activists in Ukraine and Moldova working to provide critical humanitarian assistance to women refugees and IDPs, enhance their economy recovery and participation in humanitarian planning and response, and protect women and girls affected by the conflict against sexual and gender-based violence.
In response to the war in Ukraine, WPHF is rapidly mobilizing to support local women activists responding to the urgent challenges facing women and girls affected by the conflict in Ukraine and Moldova. WPHF is actively supporting local women’s organizations in both countries with urgent institutional and programmatic financing – enabling them to provide essential humanitarian assistance to women refugees and IDPs, enhance their economy recovery and participation in humanitarian planning and response, and protect women and girls affected by the conflict against sexual and gender-based violence.
WPHF is supporting 14 projects implemented by 28 women-led and women’s rights civil society organizations in Ukraine and Moldova:
- Ukrainian Women’s Fund on a project that aims to enhance the economic recovery of women IDPs through establishing and strengthening small businesses, and providing capacity-building training and grants to start and/or relocate their businesses. This initiative will also support the expansion of women-led businesses to include jobs for women IDPs, as well as provide three local CSOs with tools to monitor businesses, serve as business support hubs, and network with employment and humanitarian coordination centers in their regions.
- Public Union “Rural Women Business Network” — together with Dnipro Agriculture Advisory Services, Cooperative Academy and Ukraine Women’s Farmers Council — on a project that aims to improve the livelihoods of rural women through the establishment and strengthening of small businesses in rural areas. The creation of new jobs will also contribute to sustaining the economy at the local level. The project will support displaced women and their families to establish and/or strengthen 20 businesses/cooperatives in various sectors, focusing primarily on food safety through the use of environmentally sound practices. A series of meetings and roundtables will be conducted to facilitate exchanges between women in rural areas, host communities, and local authorities. The project also aims to map/catalogue women who need assistance and consult with other CSOs on updating their organizational strategies and carry out trainings on risk management and recovery, humanitarian support, legislation and financial opportunities.
- Center Women’s Perspectives — together with Ternopil City Women’s Club, Center for the Support of Public Initiatives, and Khmelnytskyy Oblast NGO (Podilsky Center Group Council) — on a project that aims to support IDPs to participate in decision-making processes in humanitarian response through i) training on advocacy approaches for inclusive planning in the crisis; ii) supporting the development of humanitarian action planning for the integration of IDPs in the crisis; and iii) raising public awareness through the media. A series of multi-stakeholder dialogues will also be conducted to advocate for appropriate response for women and IDPs, including safe shelter, food security, and healthcare.
- Public Union “Rural Women Business Network” on a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of six staff members to deliver gender-sensitive support for livelihoods. This initiative also aims to map/catalogue women who need assistance and consult with other CSOs on updating their organizational strategies and carry out trainings on risk management and recovery, humanitarian support, legislation, and financial opportunities.
- NGO Pislyazavtra on a project that aims to improve the mental health and enhance the capacities of local women by providing them with access to online capacity-building sessions with professional psychologists, SGBV specialists (psychologists and lawyers), career support consultants, mentors, and coaches. These sessions seek to enhance the knowledge and provide practical skills to women leaders on various topics — including conflict resolution, networking, project management, and SGBV prevention strategies — to build their capacity and confidence in acting as agents of change in the crisis. The project will be completely online.
- National Assembly of People with Disabilities (NAPD) — together with Open Hearts, the Kharviv Rehabilitation Center for Youth with Disabilities and their Families, the Ukrainian Association of the Blind, the Western Rehabilitation and Sports Center of the National Sports Committee for the Disabled of Ukraine, The Road of Life Medical and Social Rehabilitation Center, the Chernivtsi Regional Organization of People with Disabilities, and the Donbas Rehabilitation Center for People with Disabilities — on a project aimed at promoting women’s resilience in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, with a particular focus on women with disabilities in cities with a high concentration of IDPs, including Kharkiv, Dnipro, Vynnytsia, Lviv, Uzhhorod, and Chernivtsi. The project will build the capacities of women’s Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) to provide gender-responsive humanitarian and crisis response, including legal and psychosocial services, food and medical supplies, to women living with disabilities and their families. NAPD also aims to establish a dialogue platform for these groups to engage with each other during the crisis.
- Positive Women on a project that aims to promote the resilience, needs and interests of women living with HIV/AIDS in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The project will (i) create and/or strengthen four shelters across four Ukrainian oblasts for the temporary accommodation of women living with HIV/AIDS; ii) provide basic goods, food, hygiene kits and vital medication to women and their children; and iii) provide women and girls with online and in-person psychosocial support, including legal assistance and referrals for employment and other needs.
- Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health (UFPH) on a project aimed at enhancing access to in-person and online mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and legal and referral services — including referrals for accommodation and mental health services — for displaced women and girls, survivors of SGBV, and victims of human trafficking during the crisis in Ukraine. UFPH will use a SafeWomenHub platform to raise awareness of these services across the country, build the capacity of local CSOs in the prevention of and response to SGBV, and help them adapt to the crisis and identify survivors.
- AO Gender Centru — together with AO Honor and Rights of Contemporary Women and Women’s Political Club 50/50 —on a project aimed at enhancing the capacity of local public authorities to respond to the current crisis through the facilitation of trainings on providing humanitarian response, conducting gender-sensitive analysis of refugees, and including women and girls in the planning process. Through the establishment of crisis/emergency committees, local authorities will receive institutional strengthening, including the use of tools for monitoring and assessing gender-based needs. These committees will be supported by a mobile team of psychologists, lawyers, and doctors to provide services to women refugees and their families. Additionally, the project aims to train women and girls on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and build their capacities to analyze the current context. Women refugees and their families will also receive food and hygiene products, funding to cover electricity and heat, and direct cash transfers. Finally, women and their families who have been forcibly displaced will receive sessions on managing burnout and stress in collaboration with the University of Moldova.
- Public Association “Institutum Virtutis Civilis” on a project that aims to strengthen the public-private partnerships between civil society organizations (CSOs) and local public authorities (LPAs) in Moldova. Specifically, the initiative seeks to enhance their ability to participate in humanitarian planning and response through capacity-building initiatives (including do no harm approaches), the development of action plans, and mentorship and community awareness of the role of women in those areas. To foster inputs from CSOs, the project will provide sub-grants for initiatives focused on delivering immediate goods (food and personal hygiene) and ensuring protection (e.g., providing safe spaces or facilitating access to services). It will also support peace volunteers to provide direct assistance to displaced women and children.
- Femei pentru Femei (Women for Women) on a project aimed at retaining its staff — through renumeration and payment of office costs — so that it can continue to provide its vital programming to displaced women. Specifically, the project will i) develop new strategic planning to adapt to the current crisis; ii) elaborate its diversity policy and risk management/contingency plans; iii) improve its financial management systems and develop procurement policies with a focus on resource mobilization; iv) build a new website and logo; and v) integrate self-care and well-being through the provision of counseling for staff members and volunteers.
- Association Motivatie from Moldova (AAM) on a project aimed at building the capacity of women with disabilities to respond to the current context and facilitating their inclusion in humanitarian planning within LPAs. This initiative will also facilitate trainings on emotional response during crises, media analysis, communication with local authorities, and needs assessment approaches. As part of the project, women refugees will be hired and trainings will be conducted with LPAs on disability inclusion in humanitarian planning. The goal is to undertake community actions to make things more disability-friendly (e.g., building mobile ramps) and provide direct food aid and hygiene packages to vulnerable groups.
- La Strada International on a project that aims to promote women’s resilience, with a focus on human rights and GBV, in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The project will increase access to information and sensitization on sexual violence against women, provide specialized services for women and girls who are forcibly displaced and survivors of violence, and strengthen the capacity of local organizations to promote women’s rights during the crisis.
- Women Law Center on a project aimed at promoting and protecting women’s rights and resilience during the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The project will build the capacity of paralegals and member organizations to provide initiatives for refugees — including shelter, psychosocial and feminist-focused trauma counselling, and legal support.
The intensification of the Russian offensive in Ukraine is having devastating consequences for people across the country. More than 2,000,000 people – mostly women and children – have fled to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and beyond to escape violent conflict.
Even though Ukraine has been striving for improved democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, and equality since its independence in 1991, the turbulent events of the past six years, especially the integration of the Crimean Peninsula into Russia and the seizure of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists, left the country in a critical, highly unstable situation.
While peace agreements were signed in Minsk in 2014 and 2015, the conflict in eastern Ukraine remained ongoing, leading to widespread human rights violations, prevalent gender-based violence (GBV), increasing economic decline, and a large number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Tensions kept escalating until, in February 2022, Russia publicly recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk and launched a military attack on Ukraine, breaking out war between both countries.
Women and girls in Ukraine continue to represent the majority of survivors of all forms of violence, from sexual harassment to psychological, physical, and sexual violence in both public and private spaces. Yet, efforts to advance gender equality and women’s rights are consistently challenged by patriarchal norms, stereotypes, and discriminatory attitudes entrenched in society and reiterated by anti-gender discourse in the media, politics, and society.
Ukraine’s adoption of the first ever National Action Plan for Implementation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1325 (NAP 1325) in 2016 was a commendable step towards the integration of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in reform, recovery and peacebuilding processes. Significant efforts have also been made in localizing UNSCR 1325, with 19 communities in eastern Ukraine adopting local action plans on WPS. Throughout these processes, women in government-controlled and non-government-controlled areas have been engaged in community dialogues for peace and reconciliation, advocating for the elimination of discrimination against women and launching some embryonic peacebuilding initiatives.
Nevertheless, despite this growing activism, women remain at the margins of peacebuilding and peace negotiations due to the underfunding of the NAP, which was amended in 2018 and the absence of mechanisms and support for their increased participation.
In response to the war in Ukraine, WPHF aims to ensure the financing and coordination of local civil society organizations and activists working to protect rights, prevent and end SGBV, support the needs of women refugees and IDPs, and make the perspectives of women central to humanitarian response efforts in Ukraine and Moldova.