USAID ERA helps internally displaced women in Ukraine rebuild their lives

20 May 2024

Through a grant from the USAID Economic Resilience Activity (USAID ERA), the non-governmental organization (NGO) “Women’s Perspective Center” (WPC) provided more than 670 hours of psychological counseling sessions to 300 internally displaced women in Lviv to support their mental health, as well as 240 hours of social support and study courses. WPC also gave 12 classes on woman’s health and first aid for women living in their shelters, held 14 training sessions for more than 190 unemployed women, and organized a ‘business camp’ for 45 women focused on job searching and startup skills. WPC implemented the grant from February 2023 to March 2024, which aimed to provide psychosocial rehabilitation and strengthen the economic independence of women affected by Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

One of the most significant challenges displaced women face is economic vulnerability coupled with psychological stress. Starting over in a new location, they often lack the social and professional networks that would normally help them find a job or start a business. In addition, they often have to depend on services and shelters for temporary housing and food. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Olha Shved lived in Chernihiv, where she had her own music band, “Voice of the Soul.” She sang, wrote songs, and managed the band. In March 2022, she was forced to move to Lviv with her mother and daughter.  

“Through WPC’s classes, I understood that life goes on, and you can keep moving forward,” Olha said. “I was so stressed and looking for my place in the world, but now I am happy to have an occupation that truly inspires me. I am also very glad to be a part of women’s community that supports me.” 

“After participating in the business camp, I applied for and received a grant that allowed me to buy equipment for musical activities like hosting concerts and recording songs. I plan to develop my own business in the future,” she said.   

Olha currently works as a leading specialist in the Department of Culture, Nationalities, and Religions of the Lviv Regional State Administration. 

Entrepreneur Oksana Buhera was forced to move from Kharkiv to Lviv with her two children. She also participated in the business camp, which motivated her to optimize her business selling traditional Ukrainian clothes. Through the camp, Oksana learned how to identify target audiences, attract clients, and maintain an emergency fund to pay for promotional campaigns, taxes, and business development.    

“After participation in the business camp, I started paying taxes…my turnover tripled within a month,” Oksana said. “I see the results – our family’s financial situation has improved, we live off this income, rent an apartment, and my children attend art clubs.”  

“My mindset has changed, and I’ve gained more experience and contacts. I also started taking more risks, which is giving good results. Next, I plan create my own website, hire an assistant, and apply for a grant so we can sew the clothes ourselves…and better satisfy customer requests. I support the promotion of domestic producers so that people will buy clothing made by Ukrainian manufacturers,” she said