“It was a big panic, lots of people shouting, children crying, no security.” This is how Natalia Lutoya describes the chaotic situation when she reached the train station in Lysychansk with her son fleeing Ukraine. Just like her, millions of people are currently trying to escape the war in Ukraine. As men aged 18-60 have to stay in the country due to the general mobilization, it is mainly women, children and the elderly who are travelling on their own.
On the occasion of International Women's Day, the humanitarian aid organization CARE warns that women in crises are particularly often affected by violence, exploitation and also gender-based violence. They need tailored support and protection.
“Humanitarian aid in Ukraine and neighboring countries must be based on experiences of both past and ongoing crises,” notes Delphine Pinault, CARE International Humanitarian Policy Coordinator and UN Representative. “This includes ensuring gender analysis and sex, age and disability disaggregated data is part of needs assessments and used to inform our response. It means providing safe spaces for women and girls in displacement settings, in transit centers, at border points, ensuring relief supplies include menstrual hygiene management items, for example, and having enough women and gender experts in humanitarian teams. These actions contribute to programs that better respond to women and girls' specific concerns and needs and makes them feel safer, both physically and mentally”.
The vulnerability of women and girls is also evident in other contexts of war and conflict, which continue unabated in many parts of the world. In Yemen, only half of all existing health facilities are currently fully functional. Only one in five facilities provides maternal and child health services. As a result, a woman dies during childbirth every two hours. More than two-thirds of girls in Yemen are now married underage. In Syria, practices such as child marriage have also increased dramatically as a result of the conflict. Hundreds of thousands of women are left to care for their families alone, struggling to make ends meet in exile and generate income to provide for their children.
“It's not enough to talk about women and their needs just on International Women's Day. CARE and our partners work 365 days a year to ensure that women and girls have access to gender-responsive humanitarian assistance – in Ukraine, neighboring countries, and all over the world” says Delphine Pinault.
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than seven decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit www.care-international.org.
As part of the Ukraine response, CARE International is currently partnering with People in Need, one of the largest non-governmental organisations in Eastern Europe and has provided humanitarian aid in the affected regions of Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict in 2014. CARE is also working with its long-term partner of 20 years SERA - a child protection focused organization - in Romania to deliver assistance to those fleeing into Romania from Ukraine.