Impact of the war in Ukraine on women’s civil society organisations (UN Women)

UN WOMEN RAPID ASSESSMENT: IMPACT OF THE WAR IN UKRAINE
ON WOMEN’S CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS
Results from a UN Women Survey
conducted between March 4 and 10 2022

Introduction

Since the beginning of the Russian military invasion, Ukraine is rapidly emerging as one of the world’s most complex emergencies with over 2.8 million refugees1 already fleeing the country and with steadily growing humanitarian needs. Women’s groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) have been quick to react to the immediate priorities of their communities, but face many challenges as they attempt to provide support to large numbers of internally displaced people, host-communities and those directly affected by violence and insecurity.

To better understand the situation for women’s CSOs, UN Women has conducted a rapid survey to help inform the decision-making of national and international stakeholders, and advocate for the support of civil society during the war. The survey was distributed online through UN Women networks between March 4th and March 10th and received responses from 67 civil society organizations from across the country. The information in this report also includes findings from group consultations organized between UN Women and women CSOs with participation of the national gender machinery.

A Snapshot of Women’s CSOs in Ukraine

  • Out of the 67 survey respondents, 93% are legally registered as non-profit organizations and the remining consist of informal women’s groups and associations.
  • 42% of CSOs rely entirely on volunteers. Others have over 100 employees and cover large geographical areas.
  • Overall half of survey respondents reported that their CSO is fully operational, even during this time of crisis. Only 7% of respondents mentioned that they were forced to suspend CSO activities.
  • CSOs cover all regions of Ukraine, but there is an uneven distribution. Some areas have a much higher number of CSOs present, such as regions in the Eastern part of Ukraine including in Donetsk and Luhansk. The regions among the worst affected by heavy shelling and bombing (such as Donetsk, Luhansk, Sumy and Kharkiv), have higher rates of non-operational CSOs.

Graph 1. operational Status of CSOs

7% NOT OPERATIONAL

42% PARTIALLY OPERATIONAL

51% FULLY OPERATIONAL

“Right now, we are focused on solving the immediate humanitarian problems. Our activists help the evacuees and cooperate with the centers of temporary stay, where the crisis is acute. But part of our team now also comprises of evacuees, and they have been forced to leave their homes. Our people work on a voluntary basis, without pay, almost around the clock, because this is our struggle for victory. But personal problems, and the financial instability of our organization and our families, can hinder the effectiveness of our work.” – Representative from local CSO

• The most common thematic areas that CSOs work on relating to gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) relates to the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda – 51 (76%), preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) – 48 (63%) and providing social support and inclusion – 42 (62%). Every second CSO operates in more than 3 thematic areas.

CSOs are working with women that face a variety of intersecting vulnerabilities and have a large focus on internally displaced women (82%), women with disabilities (72%) and rural women (64%). Groups of women supported to a lesser extent by CSOs include female veterans, women from ethnic minorities such as Roma, LGBTI and HIV-positive women.

CSOs have had to make significant adjustments to their programmes and operations in response to the crisis. 66% of surveyed CSOs are now providing services and interventions that they have not worked on before, 57% have been providing remote support to beneficiaries and over 52% of surveyed CSOs are re-allocating funds to new/ different priorities.

Main Challenges Faced by CSOs

Regardless of the current operational status, the majority of CSOs are facing a variety of challenges including a lack of funds, supply chain issues and an inability to move around in communities as needed to support their beneficiaries.

Notably the partially operational CSOs are struggling much more with staff being displaced or unable to work, and limited access to their offices/equipment. Every fourth CSO disrupted their activity due to the fact that sub-contractors had to suspend their activity.

The inability to move around in communities is due to several different reasons, including security issues, certain communities now being under Russian occupation and inaccessibility to public infrastructure such as means of transport.

“There is a lack of funds to support the viability of the organization (preservation of the office, payment for communication and internet, development of new activities in connection with martial law, paying mini- mum wage, ensuring the security of employees, and providing psychological support of the team) due to suspension of funding for current projects. It is im- portant to assess the needs of women and girls af- fected by the war in Ukraine and secure the means to quickly respond to those needs.” – Representative from local CSO.

CSOs have had to make significant adjustments to their programmes and operations in response to the crisis. 66% of surveyed CSOs are now providing services and interventions that they have not worked on before, 57% have been providing remote support to beneficiaries and over 52% of surveyed CSOs are re-allocating funds to new/ different priorities.

Despite the operational challenges faced by CSOs that are not working at full capacity, 64% continue to provide services and interventions and 71% are supporting beneficiaries remotely.

To read the full report with graphs, click here.

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