Gendered impact of War in light of the recent Russia-Ukraine war

The author made a request to remain anonymous.

News headlines and social media highlight the recent aggression Ukraine is experiencing. Russia has been launching rockets and bombs within Ukrainian cities where civilians are situated in, and additionally, places of target have been essential facilities such as hospitals- a maternity ward in Mariupol was attacked and badly damaged. This particular attack caused the death of three people, including a child. Other forms of violence have also surfaced and increased, with women experiencing an increase in vulnerability to sexual and physical violence. 

Pregnant women, women with young children, and children are among the most vulnerable groups affected by conflict. According to the UNFPA, around 80,000 women will give birth in Ukraine in the next three months. During the crisis, there is difficulty accessing health services- as mentioned previously- increasing the risk of new-born mortality.

The conflict within Eastern Ukraine that began in 2014 left a massive impact on access to social services, including receiving vaccines for their children. A study showed that psychological distress has been prominent, and there is also disruption of income linked to displacement and insufficient social aid. Food assistance packages usually include foods of low nutrition such as potatoes, macaroni, and grains. Although the food does do its part in preventing hunger, they do not contribute to a healthy diet required for child development. 

Within Eastern Ukraine, there is currently difficulty within accessing medical care, and pregnant women in Kherson were forced to give birth in hospital basements. It is unsafe to give birth within basements as the room is not prepared to alleviate medical emergencies. Roadblocks are yet another challenge when attempting to arrive at a safe location. Some women were forced to give birth at home while using the telephone to receive instructions from hospital staff as Russian forces blocked hospital ambulances. 

According to the United Nations, crisis and displacement adds further risks of sexual and physical violence. A 2019 study has shown that around 75 per cent of women have experienced a form of violence since the age of 15. The lack of sexual harassment reporting unfortunately contributes to the perpetuation of this violence. 

Organizations such as Nova Ukraine and Care provide essentials, including food and medication. If you would like to donate to provide these resources for the people of Ukraine, please support Nova Ukraine, which aims to provide water, food, hygiene kits, and ongoing support for Ukrainian families.

Bibliography

1.Fisher, M. (2014) Everything you need to know about the 2014 Ukraine crisis [online]. Available from: https://www.vox.com/2014/9/3/18088560/ukraine-everything-you-need-to-know (Accessed 13 March 2022).

2.Human Rights Watch (2021) ‘Ukraine: Events of 2021’ [online]. Available from: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2022/country-chapters/ukraine (Accessed 13 March 2022).

3. Illmer, A. (2022) Ukraine: Women giving birth in basements and bunkers | DW | 09.03.2022 [online]. Available from: https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-women-giving-birth-in-basements-and-bunkers/a-61070760 (Accessed 13 March 2022).

4.OSCE (2019) Well-Being and Safety of Women [online]. Available from: https://eeca.unfpa.org/en/publications/well-being-and-safety-women (Accessed 13 March 2022).

5.Nidzvetska, S. et al. (2017) Maternal and Child Health of Internally Displaced Persons in Ukraine: A Qualitative Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. [Online] 14 (1), 54. [online]. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/1/54 (Accessed 13 March 2022).

6.UFPA (2022) Ukraine: Conflict compounds the vulnerabilities of women and girls as humanitarian needs spiral [online]. Available from: https://www.unfpa.org/ukraine-war (Accessed 13 March 2022).

[Image taken from PBS NewsHour]

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