Even before Russia launched its full-scale attack on Ukraine on 24 February 2022, women workers, particularly those who are self-employed, struggled to earn their livelihoods. The war has exacerbated existing inequalities. Ukrainian women and girls are increasingly vulnerable to displacement, loss of livelihood, poverty, violence and trauma. And because urban infrastructure has been a primary target of shelling, women face even greater pressure in trying to meet the needs of themselves and their families.
Re-building with Women: Amplifying their Voices in Ukraine’s Recovery, a new report by Cities Alliance, StreetNet and WIEGO, looks at how war in Ukraine is impacting women. It features interviews with women who are informally employed or work as small traders, including members of our affiliate Free Trade Union of Entrepreneurs of Ukraine.
The publication highlights the disruption of urban services and livelihoods. The lack of services—particularly healthcare, childcare and education—has put an additional burden on women and girls due to their social roles. For women entrepreneurs, making a living can be particularly difficult. Half of those interviewed had lost their businesses due to migration, high unemployment, inflation, and disrupted supply chains. The difficulties associated with growing economic and care responsibilities cause increasing psychological stress for women. In fact, many women spoke of how they and their families have suffered psychologically. War also increases vulnerability to sexual violence and exploitation, which impacts women and girls to a greater extent.
The paper identifies four key priorities for rebuilding cities by considering women’s specific needs and vulnerabilities:
- ensuring women’s (and all peoples’) physical and mental safety;
- creating economic opportunities and women-supportive economic environments;
- restoring urban infrastructures aptly for women’s needs; and
- ensuring women have a voice in all decision-making processes during reconstruction.