Ukraine

Now and the Future: Gender Equality, Peace and Security in a COVID-19 World – Ukraine

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1.Introduction

International Alert and Charitable Foundation Nasnaha, with the support of Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) and funded by UN Women and the UK government, undertook qualitative research in Ukraine on the impacts of COVID-19 and of responses to the pandemic on gender equality, peace and security.

The research will enable the Government of Ukraine and members of the international community to understand the experiences of grassroots organisations involved in the implementation of the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations consulted as part of this research included those focusing on: women’s and girls’ rights; prevention of violence against women and girls (VAWG); support to ethnic minorities; men and women living with disabilities (and mothers of children with disabilities); resource centres; sexual and reproductive health (SRH); LGBTQI communities; people living with HIV/AIDS; media; and education.

The primary research methodology was key informant interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire. This was developed in a participatory manner between Alert, Nasnaha and GAPS to ensure that terminology would be clearly understood by interviewees. Interviews took place with organisations operating in 14 oblasts (regions) in Ukraine (Volyn, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Odesa, Chernihiv, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Mykolayiv, Kherson, Poltava, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk) and included organisations working along the line of contact but not in non-government controlled areas. For safety reasons the participant organisations are not named in this report, but all project partners are grateful for their time, knowledge and expertise.

The findings of the interviews demonstrated the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic and responses to the pandemic experienced by women and girls in Ukraine, and the ways in which civil society, in particular women’s rights organisations (WROs), stepped into the breach in the absence of state support. CSOs appreciated how the international community had continued to support local initiatives to ensure that marginalised women and social groups were able to find the help they needed; however, funding increased competition, favouring more established organisations, and rates of burnout among civic activists are high. The following recommendations allow for greater understanding of COVID-19’s context-specific gender, peace and security impacts and provide a basis on which to develop effective policy and programming responses for both the Government of Ukraine and the international community.