Caring to Survive, Surviving to Care: Gendered survival practices, social reproduction, circuits of violence in Ukraine

  • Background

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    Wars fuel different types of violence, which are often gendered – meaning that they affect people of different genders differently. They are often also coupled with economic policies that aggravate inequalities, including through invisibilizing and under-valuing the type of work and services necessary for societies to survive – social reproduction.

    Such has been the case in Ukraine, where the violence of war has been exacerbated by austerity policies. At the same time, post-war reconstruction creates a window of opportunity to challenge harmful norms that fuel both gender inequality and violence. Ukrainian women have been at the forefront of responding to the intersecting violences of war and austerity. However, their perspectives and priorities are often absent from policy discussions around reconstruction and recovery.

    As national and international actors continue to galvanize around Ukraine’s reconstruction, it is necessary to make visible, and understand the everyday strategies of social reproduction that Ukrainians have developed to ensure their own survival and that of their families and communities.

    The project responds to this need by documenting how diverse Ukrainians experience and respond to different but interlinked forms of violence – from the violence of war and Russian invasion, to the economic violence unleashed by structural and austerity reforms. Using a feminist political economy lens, it examines how the coping strategies are shaped by gender and other intersectional identities, and influenced by national and international policies.

    Based on these insights, the project will provide a concrete illustration of feminist conceptualisations of violence, and a deeper understanding of the place of social reproduction in war and war economy. Moreover, it will address an urgent practical need for information and analysis that will inform more gender-responsive and feminist policy-making and recovery planning in Ukraine.

  • Aims

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    The research aims to make visible different types of violence experienced by diverse Ukrainians and the survival strategies they have adopted. We want to shed light on the everyday strategies that are often invisible, including the practices of social reproduction: the daily, often unpaid work of caring for individuals and communities.

  • Relevance

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    The project is taking place as the international community and national actors in Ukraine are galvanizing for the country’s recovery. Working closely with Ukrainian activists, trade unions and other civil society, it seeks to influence these policy debates both nationally and globally.

    More broadly, the Project also adds to the debates around the complex interlinkages between different types of violence, and the role of social reproduction and care in building more peaceful societies.