‘Catastrophic’ warning for women, girls in Ukraine


Women on Boards is urging members to come together to help vulnerable women and children in Ukraine as the escalating violence puts millions at risk and threatens to displace hundreds of thousands of civilians.


As more news and photos emerge of Russia’s invasion and bombing campaign, WOB member and CARE Australia’s Director Strategy & Enabling Services, Sue Cunningham, says urgent action is needed to avert a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

“In the past few days, more than 100,000 people have fled their homes, and 30,000 people have made the journey to Moldova, Poland and Romania, where the massive refugee influx has led to lines at their borders stretching for more than 10 kilometres,” Sue told Women on Boards.

“Most of the people fleeing are women and children – many arriving on foot, carrying young children through freezing temperatures.”

She said women and girls bear the brunt of poverty and are more severely affected by crises like climate change, natural disasters, COVID-19, and conflict. 

“CARE is particularly worried about the situation for women and girls in Ukraine. In all conflicts, women and girls are particularly at risk when it comes to gender-based violence, exploitation, discrimination, and poor access to vital health services. 

“The long-running conflict in Ukraine has increased the risk of human trafficking – women and girls are exploited primarily for sex work. Unwanted pregnancies, abortions and an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections are the result.”

Sue said even before this recent escalation of conflict more than half (54 per cent) of the nearly 3 million people in Ukraine in dire need of humanitarian assistance were women and girls. 

She said across Ukraine domestic violence against women is also aggravated by the conflict, with examples of sexual violence against women perpetrated by partners as well as by armed actors. 

“Stigma and lack of access to services make it even harder for women and girls to report incidents and seek the necessary support, forcing them to live with the implications in silence.”

How you can help

"Like everyone else, I am devastated to be watching the events unfolding in the Ukraine, which are having catastrophic impacts on women and children. If you can, please give generously to our appeal so that we can help provide humanitarian support during this desperate time,” said Sue.

CARE is supporting its local partner in Ukraine, People in Need, to distribute food, water, hygiene kits and money for supplies. CARE will also be working with local partners in neighbouring countries to provide support to the families who have fled Ukraine for safety. Donate to the appeal HERE.

  • UN Women has launched an emergency appeal for women and girls in Ukraine.
  • The Guardian has also listed ways you can help the people of Ukraine HERE
  • For more ideas read this article from Global Citizen.

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