The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Eyes on Eastern Europe: Marsh Zhinok
By Verdell Wright on June 8, 2023
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 62,000 people have died, nearly 60,000 have been injured, and roughly 14 million have been displaced. UUSC immediately mobilized its resources in support of those who were impacted by the invasion, culminating in 10 partnerships with organizations in Eastern Europe. All of these organizations are committed to helping communities facing compounding forms of oppression during this conflict—meaning we focus our resources on communities who are already facing severe oppression even before the invasion (people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.). This series will highlight those partners and the work they do.
When women’s lives are impacted, so are the communities where they live. This is true in every situation, even more so during a war. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine meant that women seeking safety had to do so while still navigating a sexist, patriarchal society. Sadly, even war is not enough to eliminate the barriers women face.
This is why organizations like Marsh Zhinok are so important. The organization aims to support women and feminist movements in Ukraine, promote the protection of women against violence and unjust laws, and advocate for gender equality.
Marsh Zhinok started as an initiative led by Insight Public Organization in 2018. That year, Insight organized a Women’s March in Kyiv for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Following that, 25,000 signatures were collected in a petition and given to the President of Ukraine in 2019. In 2021, they gathered another 25,000 signatures in 30 days. As of 2022, Marsh Zhinok is a separate and distinct organization.
These accomplishments highlight how successful Marsh Zhinok’s organizing strategies are and its ability to enact change. The organization hosts trainings for social workers that educate them on how to work with vulnerable communities. This advocacy extends to other areas impacting women including LGBTQ+ rights, gender-based violence, and reproductive rights.
In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the organization started providing women with psychological, medical, and shelter support. The organization expects to aid between 15,000-20,000 households in the coming year with humanitarian aid and legal support. Helping women in the area means helping entire communities.
This would require Marsh Zhinok to hire more staff. UUSC funding will allow Marsh Zhinok to invest in its organizational structure to continue providing these vital services. The organization will be able to fully train its new staff, educate social workers on how to engage vulnerable communities and extend their reach into different regions. With more and better training, Marsh Zhinok’s staff will be even more equipped to provide quality services.
Interested in supporting the work of Marsh Zhinok and organizations like it? Donate to our Emergency Response Fund!
Image Credit: Marsh Zhinok