17.12.2022: Peace work in Ukraine

Even before the Russian war of aggression, women in eastern Ukraine were barely heard, their needs and concerns ignored. Our pilot programme, launched in 2021, opened the space for women to discuss issues and formulate demands that would make their everyday lives safer. We are picking up where we left off with the new Women's Platform for Peace.

We decided to get involved in the place where the situation of women had already been precarious before 24 February 2022: in eastern Ukraine, in the then autonomous regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. A study conducted by our partner, KFR Public Alternative (PA), on the perceived and lived security of women in eastern Ukraine made clear how multiple insecurities shaped the everyday lives of these women. We facilitated several Women's Peace Tables with PA in 2021, where the experiences of physical and psychological violence, discrimination and poverty were articulated. Together, the women formulated demands to politicians.

Continuing to work – despite the war

With financial contributions from the Feminist Peace Initiatives (FPIs), participants implemented their own projects on issues relevant to their everyday lives (see page 3). This year, six projects came to fruition in spite of the most difficult of conditions. They laid the groundwork for further collaboration – in defiance of the war.

In the past few months, we have further developed our Ukraine programme. The follow-up project, Women's Platform for Peace (WPP), builds on experiences and activities shared so far. The focus continues to be on issues that are of central importance to women: experience of violence, economic exclusion, and lack of jobs, retraining or opportunities for further education. Now it is a question of further developing what has been achieved through the smaller projects. The WPP offers the women a safe space for this work.

First virtual workshops

In September, over 30 women participated in the first virtual WPP workshop. The women presented their projects and discussed what had happened so far. The topic of security – beyond the prevailing military definition – was again a focus of discussions. We invited three experts: from Afghanistan, from Kosovo as well as our Board member Sidonia Gabriel, Advisor for Human Security at the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Sri Lanka. They all shared their experiences in dealing with the past and with reconciliation work, investigating war crimes and reconstruction. Despite the different contexts, all the women had similar questions about the importance of comprehensive security. Another workshop, on communication, took place in November.

More workshops are planned for 2023. The women will decide in which areas they want to acquire new knowledge, as well as where they themselves can impart it. As soon as the security situation allows, the meetings will take place physically.

Find out more about our programme in Ukraine.

Read the article "For a gender-sensitive reconstruction" by our programme manager Annemarie Sancar in the KOFF Peacebuilding Magazine here (February 2023).


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