Urgent Action: Our Response to Support Feminist Activists in Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine just a few weeks ago – on February 24, 2022 – it was the start of a war with serious implications for Ukraine, women and gender rights activists, and the world as a whole. 

Since the invasion, Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF) has received an outpouring of support for our Urgent Response Fund to help get resources into the hands of women and LGBTQI activists in Ukraine. As of April 12, we’ve already made 30 rapid response grants to organizations in Ukraine, with numerous more grants in the pipeline. We anticipate that we’ll receive 200 requests for assistance in the next 2-3 months, and more as the war continues on. 

Our model of rapid response funding was built for moments like this, where quick infusions of funding can help address immediate and urgent needs. UAF is committed to flexibility and responsiveness in this moment, listening to and learning from all of our partners and advisors in Ukraine and the surrounding areas in Eastern Europe. 

The situation in Ukraine changes day to day, especially for women and those in the LGBTQI community. Men have been forbidden to leave Ukraine, and many women are having to make the extremely difficult decision of evacuating the country or keeping their families together. Today, the majority of refugees are women and children. Transgender people are being turned away from shelters in other countries, and those in the LGBTQI community face new risks and challenges because of the conflict.

The current situation is an extension of a long history of conflict in the region which has limited the ability of feminist activists in Ukraine to have their voices heard for years. Now with the crisis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the safety and security of our advisors, activists, and organizational partners are under dire and critical threats. 

Women, trans, and nonbinary activists are at the forefront of community care and engagement. In times of war, women especially bear the responsibility of maintaining collective safety for their families and communities. UAF is committed to keeping frontline feminist activists safe, centered, and resourced to lead movements. In this moment, that means providing them with resources that provide for their holistic wellbeing and survival. 

As the conflict expands, all activists in Ukraine are at risk of acts of intimidation and reprisals by law enforcement and military forces from both Russian and Ukrainian authorities. In all cases, we recognize that incidences of gender-based violence escalate in periods of conflict. We know that the war will cast a long shadow and that post-war recovery will be difficult and long. We commit to meeting the current and immediate needs of activists now, while also supporting mechanisms to ensure that women, trans, and nonbinary activists will be centered during future peacebuilding and rebuilding efforts. 

We are gravely concerned about the current situation that is endangering the safety of all Ukrainians and particularly the rights of women, girls, gender nonconforming, and LGBTQI people, Roma communities, migrants, Black and other people of color, people with disabilities, people living with HIV, people dependent on harm reduction services, and other structurally marginalized groups facing heightened discrimination in this crisis.

We are seeking to meet the escalating needs of evacuations and are looking toward the next phase of response – partnering and working with activists in bordering countries as activists seek refuge and position themselves within those countries. 

UAF is committed to responding to requests and providing assistance around the following:

  • Support with emergency evacuations and relocations
  • Legal, financial, and medical training
  • Security and disaster survival training
  • Increasing shelter capacities for children, women, and all other civilians
  • Access to alternative communication channels, mobile internet, power banks, VPNs, proxy, spare phones, and tablets

Please continue to stand with us and with those in Ukraine. Donations can be made here.