No end in sight—the women of Ukraine need our continued commitment

As the full-scale invasion of Ukraine enters its third year, the situation is in some ways more difficult than a year ago. In early 2023, there was some hope that peace could be within reach—that hope is now gone. Looking ahead at 2024, there is no sign of improvement. Every night, air raid sirens sound across Ukraine, and daily attacks persist, often resulting in injuries and casualties. Meanwhile, international support for the country is declining.

Women are sustaining everyday life as best they can under constant pressure that has persisted for a long time. Many men, and women too, have been at the front lines for an extended period. Those men who do return are often traumatised, and this frequently affects the rest of the family. Women’s rights organisations in Ukraine report an increase in domestic violence, but that police and authorities show little willingness to report and prosecute perpetrators, as these are often seen as war heroes.

Many women are internally displaced within the country with their children, a situation which many expected to be temporary but that has now turned into an unpredictable limbo. Here, tensions also arise between the local population and internally displaced people.

Access to sexual and reproductive health, including abortions, has also decreased. Healthcare in Ukraine is under significant strain and medical resources are needed for the acute victims of the war. However, amidst the ongoing full-scale invasion, Ukraine has ratified the Istanbul Convention on violence against women (in 2022)—something the women’s movement has demanded for years. Now, they await the results, in the form of improved legislation and its full implementation.

In these circumstances, women’s rights organisations in Ukraine continue to work on meeting the urgent needs of different groups of women, supporting survivors of gender-based violence, providing assistance to internal displaced people and continuing to advocate for women’s needs and priorities to decision-makers.

Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations operate in western, eastern and southern Ukraine, offering a wide range of support to women subjected to violence, LGBTQ+ persons and women with disabilities. Throughout the past year, they have addressed immediate needs but have also had the opportunity to join a delegation of activists in Brussels to raise women’s rights issues ahead of Ukraine’s EU accession.

As the people of Ukraine are looking towards the year ahead, they are asked to hold on. The endurance and commitment of Sweden and the international community to maintain attention and engage in Ukraine’s present and future are crucial for their success.

—The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation

Statements by The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation