Women’s Perspectives in Lviv, Ukraine has fought for women’s rights for more than two decades, helping survivors of gender-based violence. Last year, the organisation made the switch to focus on helping women refugees.
For more than 20 years feminist and psychologist Marta Chumalo has been fighting for women’s rights in Ukraine, focusing on helping survivors of gender-based violence. When Russia launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, Marta and her organisation Women’s Perspectives in Lviv adapted their work to help internally displaced women from all over the country. The organisation is now one of The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation’s partner organisations.
“Since the invasion, we started to see a different kind of violence. For example, we have a woman from Kiev whose husband had become violent. He started getting hallucinations where he believed that his wife and children were his enemies. When she asked the police for protection, they told her ‘You are the wife—help your husband, he’s a hero’,” says Marta.
Thankfully, the woman was able to get her and her children to one of the shelters organised by Women’s Perspectives, but Marta believes they will see more cases like this in the future.
For Marta and her colleagues, it has been important to not only to help with basic needs in the shelters but to provide various kind of support for the women seeking help.
“We try to organise spaces where the women can do daily activities. Because very often in shelters, they just get a ready-made meal and then lie on their mattresses the rest of the time, which can be hard for their psychological conditions,” explains Marta.
In Lviv, Women’s Perspectives offers multiple activities, such as psychotherapy, legal support and self-defence classes or help with the children’s homework from school. They recently started organising events and initiatives to integrate the IDPs with the local community.
“We also provide career consultants to encourage them to find a job to be able to stay independent. For example, some of them can work as administrators in our shelters and very often they’re able to start renting their own flats and can leave the shelters.”
For Women’s Perspectives, the support and solidarity for Ukrainian women shown from across Europe has meant a lot.
“This war has shown us how big the solidarity is for Ukraine. We created a platform for woman-to-woman commitments, that works like a solidarity platform where women in need can ask for support and other women can help directly, without us being the middle part,” says Marta.
All support is welcome. Since the invasion, it has become clear for Marta and her colleagues how important time and resources have been–and how valuable understanding donors are when there’s little time for bureaucracy and long procedures.
“We constantly need more time as well as more resources and people who can help us. We don’t have time for bureaucracy, The situation changes every day and we need to react. That’s why we need these quick and easy procedures,” she continues.
Kvinna till Kvinna has supported women’s rights in Ukraine since 2014. When the large-scale invasion by Russia started in 2022, Kvinna till Kvinna activated our emergency fund to provide urgent support to women’s rights organisations and individual women human rights defenders in and from Ukraine in their work to help women exposed to violence, displaced women and families in need of immediate support. Learn more about our work in Ukraine »