Change means new opportunities for refugees!
Grant recipient: Charitable Foundation “Winds of Change”, Odessa, Ukraine
Project: To expand economic rights and opportunities for IDP victims of gender-based violence
Our charity, Winds of Change, and its platform for women’s initiatives were established in June 2018. Our aim was to create a space where women who had experienced discrimination due to their gender or social status could write or create projects designed to improve the quality of life of women like themselves.
One of our successful projects is ‘Expanding economic rights and opportunities for women who are victims of gender-based violence’, initiated by a psychologist, Olga Alekseeva, and implemented by Winds of Change with a grant from the BEARR Trust in 2019. The project was designed to reduce the incidence of economic and gender-based violence, and increase the economic opportunities, leadership skills and social independence of women forced to flee from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
“Since 2014, I have worked as a psychologist with women who have fled the conflict areas”, said Olga Alekseeva, “I noticed that 90% of women who experience violence are economically dependent on their aggressor. And even though there are training sessions, and countless information booklets are issued about financial awareness, the women do not absorb the information. So during the training sessions we used an interactive practical transformational game called ‘Cash Flow’. During the game, women not only achieved better financial awareness but were able to put it into practice.”
An example of the effectiveness of the project can be seen in the case of 35-year- old Maria:
“I got to know my husband when I was 21. He was very jealous and I thought this was a sign that he loved me. Later he stopped me from working, and eventually did not allow me out of our home without him. He didn’t work, but sold drugs and started to use them, and then so did I. I was totally dependent on him, so came to accept the frequent beatings and humiliations as normal. I got used to them. I had no profession, no work, no friends, no relatives, and no will to live. The only thing that kept me going was my children. Five years ago, when my second daughter was born, I stopped using drugs and daily beatings started. After I had a spell in hospital with broken facial bones I went to a centre for victims of violence. I had no life skills at all, and was unable to relate to my surroundings. Taking part in the project taught me a lot. I was able to think about my life and relationships with my children and myself. I started to plan my budget, to get to know people without fearing that they would judge me, and learned to have pride in myself. I have found a job – I wash the dishes in a school canteen. But I won’t stop there. I know that I want to be an Independent Woman and will teach my little girls to be that also.”
“For the future our organisation has set itself an ambitious task: to ensure that every woman can find in herself the strength to insist on her right to security and economic independence and not to fear ridicule” said Tatyana Panashenko, Executive Director of the organisation. “Challenging violence is not the work of just one project, but a long-term effort. We need systemic change, including in the provision of social services for such women. We will continue to work for this.”
Winds of Change