'Women that believe in each other can survive anything'
Laura Marks OBE, Common Good
- Credit: PA
The images primarily of women and children, cold, bewildered, hauling backpacks and wheelie bags as they attempt to flee Ukraine, are haunting.
Separated from their husbands, sons and fathers who have stayed to fight, hundreds of thousands of refugees are desperately searching for safety in a world turned upside down overnight.
The theme for International Women’s Day, #BreaktheBias, is focussed on gender inequality and whilst this clearly wasn’t its original focus, it does resonate loudly with the Ukrainian crisis. Whilst the men of Ukraine are extraordinarily bravely signing up to fight for democracy and freedom, the women too are facing hardship specifically relating to their gender.
The charity Fight for Sight identified a myriad of ways in which women specifically suffer in modern day wars. These include the massive numbers of women civilians who are killed and injured, the widows of war who are displaced, disinherited, and impoverished, the rape, sexual torture and sexual exploitation fuelled by war, and that women are particularly exposed to toxic chemical weapons and environmental contamination during and after war.
Equally clear is the role that women play in supporting communities and people who are at risk and in pain. It was particularly poignant to see a Polish volunteer on the news welcoming a bewildered mother and her children at the border, taking her bag and gently leading her away to find food, transport and shelter. Whilst many men will be involved, the backbone of grassroots volunteering tends to fall to women, who will be cooking warm meals in the biting cold, collecting nappies, blankets, dry clothes and comforting toys, and providing much needed hugs and tear-ready tissues.
Whether we see our role as sending money to support the humanitarian crisis, campaigning to allow refugees to enter the UK, providing support and comfort for refugees who arrive here in north London over the coming months, or offering other services or expertise where it is needed, this International Women’s Day there is work to be done.
Poet Nikita Gill wrote: “Women that believe in each other can survive anything. Women who believe in each other create armies that will win kingdoms and wars.”
- 1 Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Street parties and road closures in Haringey
- 2 Five jailed after 'cold blooded' murder of Enfield father
- 3 Revealed: Your favourite fish and chip shop in north London
- 4 Crouch End pub ransacked and charity money stolen
- 5 Camden woman in running for Miss Universe Germany
- 6 Man jailed for membership of banned neo-Nazi group National Action
- 7 Two more charged in connection with Olsi Kuka killing in Barnet
- 8 Belsize Park phone box transformed into art gallery by prep school pupils
- 9 Royal beacon in Golders Hill shines light for Queen
- 10 Hampstead Town's first Labour councillor stands down weeks into office
This International Women’s Day let’s gather our efforts together to ensure that she is right.
Laura Marks OBE is founder of Mitzvah Day, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and an interfaith consultant – commongood.uk.com