One year into the war, displaced Ukrainian women are determined to persevere

Refugee women are emerging as a new generation of Ukrainians: resilient, strong, and determined to build a better future. © UNFPA Moldova/Ion Ples Alexandru
  • 03 March 2023

Chișinău, MOLDOVA – Everything changed when Marina fled the war in Ukraine. She left behind a successful career and a robust family support network, arriving in Moldova with her young children and little else. "It wasn’t easy to learn to ask for help,” she said.

A year later, she has learned that she is stronger than she ever could have imagined. "We are now part of a new generation, myself and my children – a strong generation that is focused on building a better future for our nation and our people," Marina said at a UNFPA safe space in Chisinau. 

The facility is a place where refugee women are able to meet, receive support and support one another: “The war taught us the importance of relying on each other, building connections and being grateful for the kindness of others," Marina explained. 

Support for mothers, children

The refugees share practical information about assistance and services, and they also help  one another emotionally. Marina told the other women present that she struggles to explain the war to her children.

"They ask questions that I don't have the answers to – why did grandma stay back? When will we be able to return home? What happened to our house? It breaks my heart to see the confusion and uncertainty in their eyes," she said. "But I try to reassure them that we are safe now and we will get through this together." 

The safe space also offers activities and support to adolescents. Opportunities to socialize are essential for older children and young teens who have been uprooted just as they are beginning to develop their own social connections and independent identities. 

Counselling services and referrals to reproductive health care and information are also available, as are specialized services for survivors of gender-based violence. 

More than 20,000 people have received support at the safe space in the last year.

United in spirit

One young woman, Alla, said that she and the other refugees have been united by their experiences. "We suddenly no longer dwell on the past anymore. Instead, we look towards the future with ambition and determination,” she said. 

They are determined to support their home country in whatever way they can, she added. “The war destroyed half of our country, but it couldn't destroy our spirit – and only renewed our sense of national identity.”

Yulya, a mother of two from Odesa, shared the joy she experiences when she sees members of their refugee community create new lives for themselves. “Time moves on and some who fled in search of safety have started new lives, found jobs, and created families in new countries,” she described.

"The stories are different, however the ambition is the same for all – to contribute to our country’s economy wherever we are."

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