In the days since the start of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, the United Nations refugee agency has reported that over a million people have fled the country, the vast majority of them women and children. On this International Women’s Day, we watch in horror as families make border crossings, searching for safety in an uncertain time, taking what they can, and leaving everything else behind.
And yet, in the midst of all of this, we see videos emerging that showcase tremendous courage and resilience. Women like the one who called for Russian soldiers to put sunflower seeds in their pockets so that when they die on Ukrainian land, sunflowers—Ukraine’s national flower—would grow. Though this woman has not yet been identified by name, her determination shows precisely how just one person can make a difference, even against a conflict of such magnitude.
At a time like this, when war rages and a global pandemic still threatens, it’s easy to feel like one person’s voice or action simply isn’t loud enough to drown out the tidal wave of violence. We want to take a stand against what’s happening, but changing a profile picture to a Ukrainian flag or to a picture of sunflowers doesn’t actually affect change. Change, real change, requires real action.
So, in honor of this International Women’s Day, what can we do to support women and girls in Ukraine and around the world?
As a woman-owned and majority female team, we at BSTRO feel strongly about the power of women to facilitate change. With employees who hail from all around the world, we celebrate the achievements of women on International Women’s Day, while also recognizing that injustice for one woman, anywhere, means that there’s still work to be done. We are a community, and we are stronger when we work together.
For a start, we can put our money towards humanitarian organizations that support women and children on the ground right now in Ukraine: UN Women, Voices of Children, and UNHRC are a few. Even a small amount makes a difference, and hosting a fundraiser or even sharing a cause with friends and loved ones is a simple but effective way to increase individual donor power. Former BSTRO illustrator, Natalie O’Brien, is amplifying her impact by drawing caricatures for anyone who donates $20 or more to a vetted Ukraine Aid organization. DM Natalie on Instagram @nattlesnakess to show your support and receive an original sketch of yourself or your pet.
Finding ways to help the women of Ukraine is a powerful way to fight back against the current insurgence. Unfortunately, Ukraine is not an outlier. All over the world, war, danger, and instability threaten women’s lives. Even in our own cities, our own neighborhoods, and communities, women face injustice and oppression. There are so many opportunities to help women even closer to home.
Local nonprofits can always use donations, but if donating money isn’t an option right now, there are many other ways to support women and girls — including causes that are more local, personal, or hands-on. The gift of time and talent is priceless, and volunteer work is an excellent way to create real change that goes beyond writing a check.
Even an hour or two a month given to an organization close to your heart can make all the difference in one woman’s life — whether it’s babysitting, looking over a woman’s resume as she prepares to return to the job market, helping out with a food pantry or shelter, or simply being there in your own job to boost other women’s voices. If you’re in the position, hire women, promote women, and give them a seat at the table. Women carry half the world on their shoulders; supporting women supports society.
It doesn’t take a war to have injustice; it happens all around us every day. Each one of us can make a difference. On this International Women’s Day we encourage you to remember that the women of Ukraine — and women all over the globe — are all of us.