Read between the lines: the project will focus on researching the impact of the war in Ukraine on the protection and promotion of women’s rights

Due to the devastating consequences of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, the project “Read Between the Lines: (Post)pandemic Economic Effects on Women’s Rights CSOs from Bulgaria, Georgia and Ukraine”  had to change its focus from overcoming the economic consequences of the pandemic to studying the impact of armed conflicts and the consequences of several crises at once on the work of women’s/feminist organizations.

Read Between the Lines project brought together three countries (Bulgaria, Georgia and Ukraine) to assess the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and their impact on women’s/feminist organizations at the end of last year. But today requires responding to new catastrophic challenges – the invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine. This war is devastating for Ukrainian society and our economy, and in addition caused a shock throughout the world, the region and the entire globe. These complex emergencies have changed the Black Sea region’s dynamics and presented new challenges for the protection and promotion of human rights protection and promotion. The lack of economic sustainability, the deepening gender inequalities, the rise of militarism, and governments’ lack of capacity to reach and serve the most vulnerable, further established the new role of the CSOs in conflict resolution and handling the increased demand for help.

And while focus shifted and resources became even more scarce, women and human rights CSOs had to adapt once more – from pandemic resilience to armed conflict response and humanitarian aid, often replacing the State institutions in critical areas of concern, like setting up coordination centres for the displaced, being the only ones to first welcome the Ukrainian refugees, providing medical support and accommodation, care for the elderly and children, mental health issues, and support to ethnic or LGBTQ+ communities escaping the war.

The project “Read Between the Lines: (Post)pandemic Economic Effects on Women’s Rights CSOs from Bulgaria, Georgia and Ukraine ” takes a new shift with the encouragement of the donor organization – the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation. It focuses on exploring the (post)pandemic economic consequences and those related to the new crisis – the military conflict in Ukraine, for organizations working for women’s rights and other marginalized groups in Bulgaria, Ukraine and Georgia. The data collected will result in a research analysis which aim is to raise awareness of the experiences and challenges faced by women’s NGOs in the three Black Sea countries.

An international research team will implement 60 in-depth interviews with civil society actors in Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Georgia. The aim is to analyse the response and resilience models related to the crises and how they influence women’s human rights protection and promotion. The initiative will inform different stakeholders about the context in which civil society operates and adapts to new realities to meet the needs of its target groups.

Our ambition is that the study will serve as an advocacy tool in policy formulation (for funding) for the civil sector working for women’s rights, protection of vulnerable groups of people, and will give visibility to good practices of civil society in responding to overlapping crises.

The project will also contribute to strengthening regional cooperation between 4 women’s funds and their beneficiaries based in Bulgaria, Ukraine and Georgia, by enriching knowledge about the region and creating a common history and voice.

“Read Between the Lines: (Post)pandemic Economic Effects on Women’s Rights CSOs from Bulgaria, Georgia and Ukraine” is funded by the Black Sea Trust, a Project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and co-funded by the European Commission.