WPHF is rapidly mobilizing resources to channel flexible institutional and programmatic funding to local civil society organizations and women’s activists in Ukraine working to provide critical humanitarian assistance to women refugees and IDPs and protect women and girls affected by the conflict against sexual and gender-based violence.
In Ukraine, WPHF is taking immediate action to support local women activists responding to the urgent challenges facing women and girls affected by the conflict in the face of the current crisis. WPHF aims to support local women’s organizations in Ukraine with urgent core and programmatic financing – enabling them to provide essential humanitarian assistance to women refugees and IDPs and protect women and girls affected by the conflict against sexual and gender-based violence.
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. UN humanitarian agencies are on the ground and ready to increase support in what is a rapidly evolving and grave refugee emergency.
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 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 across the country.