February 24, 2024

Two Years In: As the War Rages on in Ukraine, Urgent Action Fund Stands with Feminist Activists

Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism

Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism

It has been two years since Russia initially invaded Ukraine, and today, the war rages on. 

The war has come at the devastating cost of civilian lives and resulted in the region’s largest humanitarian and refugee crisis since World War II. Nearly 15 million refugees have been displaced from Ukraine, and as of September 2023, the UN Human Rights Office has recorded 27,449 civilian casualties, with 9,701 killed and 17,748 injured.

Like all wars, the impact of the conflict continues to be gendered and disproportionately experienced by displaced people and marginalized groups such as female-headed households, Roma people, LGBTQI+ people, and persons with disabilities. Basic services in Ukraine have been severely hampered, and every day, there are shocking reports of atrocities, including rising sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, summary executions, and horrific acts of torture. These statistics only scratch the surface of the profound challenges civilians endure, including a pervasive sense of insecurity, deepened inequalities, and the loss of countless homes and livelihoods.

Since February 2022, Urgent Action Fund has provided flexible, trust-based resourcing to feminist activists impacted by the conflict who face the challenges that come with ongoing violence and war. In the past two years, we’ve awarded almost 250 grants totaling nearly $4 million USD.

As the needs of individuals, communities, and organizations have shifted over the course of the conflict, our grantmaking and resourcing has responded in kind, providing flexible, trust-based funding that allows for quick responses to ongoing and evolving challenges. The beginning of the war saw the need to help many evacuate conflict zones, while also providing essential resources to those who chose to stay. Today, there is a need to support internally displaced people and those who have been left out of traditional aid efforts, such as persons with disabilities, women, girls, HIV-positive individuals, and LGBTQ+ communities.

A recent grant provided funding to an organization dedicated to providing comprehensive psychological assistance for disabled women and girls. The organization manages a center that provides psychological support, socialization, and activities for women and girls with disabilities, as well as female caregivers to those with disabilities. A grant from Urgent Action Fund has helped the center continue to provide ongoing programs, such as arts and crafts and interactive activities, along with providing food and hygiene kits since the initial invasion. This fills a huge gap in support for a group of people left out of general aid efforts and assistance.

There is also a growing demand for psycho-social counseling services to support Ukrainian activists facing burnout and exhaustion, and internally displaced women and children who have been traumatized by the atrocities of war, including victims of rape and other severe forms of violence.

Especially impacted by trauma are Ukrainian refugees, including groups who are historically marginalized, such as Roma people. Historically, Roma have been one of the most discriminated and stigmatized communities in Ukraine. Nowadays Roma women face double discrimination – both as Roma and as a group forcibly displaced from Ukraine.

A recent grant was made to help an organization operate an adaptation center for Roma women and children who fled Ukraine to Germany. At the adaptation center, staff aims to support the stabilization and restoration of the psychological state for Roma refugees, offer crisis therapeutic assistance and legal support, art therapy, and language classes. The grant money is being used to cover the costs of psychologists, lawyers, furniture, office supplies, and a language teacher to help the refugees learn German. The center helps those adjusting to living in a new country by providing assistance to obtain identification documents, arrange meetings with pro-bono lawyers, and inform Roma refugees about their rights.

Beyond Ukraine, we’ve seen additional impacts from the war on feminists in the surrounding region. In Russia, for example, civil rights movements opposing the war in Ukraine continue to face ongoing retaliation from Russian authorities. We have witnessed an unprecedented and urgent exodus of activists relocating from the country, and have responded with funding to support relocation efforts.

As conflict and humanitarian crises continue and intensify in Ukraine, frontline feminist activists must be more prepared than ever to mobilize and meet unexpected opportunities and challenges, navigating ever-shifting political landscapes with safety, urgency, creativity, and care.

Urgent Action Fund is continuing to support those impacted by the war, noting that the nature of activism requires movements to be nimble and adaptive, and that activists navigate backlash in response to their push for change. Our grants are supporting these efforts, providing flexible resources to shifting needs for those on the frontlines.

Our grantmaking is exceptionally useful to women, trans and nonbinary activists who are uniquely and disproportionately impacted by the conflict and have less access to resources, protection, and power.And as always, we fund through a lens of care, incorporating resourcing into our grants to support those dealing with the trauma and psychological impacts of living through a conflict.

As the war continues on, so does Urgent Action Fund’s support in the region. Want to stand with us and help Ukrainian feminists? Make a gift today.


Photo Credit: Halfpoint


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Chinyere Ezie



Chinyere Ezie is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she advocates for racial justice, gender justice, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) rights, and challenges governmental abuses of power. Chinyere previously worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center where she brought cases defending the rights of LGBTQI+ Southerners. She also served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she litigated employment discrimination cases and secured a $5.1 million jury verdict on behalf of workers subjected to unlawful treatment. Chinyere is a William J. Fulbright Scholar, a White House Fellows Program Regional Panelist, and a cum laude graduate of Yale University. She also received a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School, where she was an Alexander Hamilton Scholar and served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender and Law. Chinyere serves on the Board of Directors of the Transgender Law Center and the feminist grant-making organization the Urgent Action Fund. She was also a Founding Board Member of the National Trans Bar Association.In 2018, she was named one of the nation’s Best LGBTQI+ Lawyers Under 40.