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The war in Ukraine, six months on

Saturday 3 September 2022, by siawi3


The war in Ukraine, six months on

Wednesday 24 August 2022,

by Oksana Dulchak

Six months into the full-scale invasion, the most pressing feminist issues in Ukraine involve security and socio-economic survival.

When it comes to security, we’re talking about the possibility of evacuating to a relatively safe place with a lower threat of death, maiming or violence. For women with family members in need of care – children, people with disabilities, elderly people – it’s often harder to leave.

Women’s responsibility to ensure at least some kind of survival for themselves, and often other family members, is made yet more difficult by the destruction of infrastructure and housing; the displacement of large numbers of the population to other regions within Ukraine; the economic crisis and the loss of work, insufficient state support; and a significant dismantling of the protection of labour rights.

Those who evacuate abroad face additional issues linked to safety when leaving, difficulties with official registration, adaptation, and integration into unfamiliar (and also often crowded) infrastructure: schools, kindergartens, medical facilities and so on.

Martial law (which prevents men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country) means a huge number of women find themselves forced into single motherhood, with all the difficulties it entails made worse by being in a foreign country without their usual support networks. For those who have to stay abroad for a longer period, the challenge will also be to integrate into the local labour market, which will often mean de-skilling and replenishing host countries’ reservoirs of cheap labour, in particular in the care sectors of European countries.

To their credit, the global feminist movement, as far as I know, has and continues to unconditionally support those affected by war. Solidarity with the victims of the Russian invasion has been universal.

Unfortunately, a problem arose when it came to solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance. Many representatives of the feminist movement have adopted slogans – such as: ‘Don’t arm Ukraine’ – which ignore the historical and material context of what is happening in the country. Many have failed to ask what Ukrainian activists think and need. At the same time, of course, there are many activists, initiatives, organisations and networks that support Ukrainian feminists. And the feminist movement is one of the most active in the Russian anti-war resistance.

Oksana Dutchak