Consequences of the Russian War in Ukraine: What Policies for Temporary Displaced Ukrainian Women in Austria, Czechia, Hungary, and Slovakia?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced more than 12 million people to flee their homes, with Ukrainians applying for a temporary protection in the European Union primarily consisting of women, children, and the elderly.
This report seeks to map out policies targeted towards assisting Ukrainian women refugees and explore the different actors and processes involved in organising and coordinating such programmes. This report also scrutinises some of the challenges and best practices from these activities based on the experiences of both assistance providers and Ukrainian women. It asks: what recommendations can be advanced at the EU, state, and non-state levels?
The focus here is placed on smaller countries in Central Europe (Austria, Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia) that either border or are in the near vicinity of Ukraine – they have notably all been affected by the arrival of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s aggression. Among Ukrainians granted temporary protection in the four countries, women make up 70% of arrivals in Austria, 63% in Czechia, 57% in Hungary, and 68% in Slovakia. They are, notably, vulnerable to numerous risks, including gender-based violence (GBV), labour exploitation, and human trafficking (often for sexual exploitation). They also have specific needs, including finding suitable childcare (many women come alone with their children) and suitable jobs as well as accessing healthcare services.
The initial response to the arrival of Ukrainians and the implementation of support programmes were largely organised by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs), in cooperation with international organizations (IOs) (e.g. UNHCR and UNICEF). Municipalities and Ukrainian-led organizations have also been integral to supporting and implementing different measures and interventions.
Several challenges related to women and children have been examined as part of the existing policies and support programmes implemented by Austria, Czechia, Hungary, and Slovakia. These include:
- Finding childcare services
- Obtaining flexible and suitable jobs
- Ensuring living arrangements in safe and affordable accommodation
- Preventing gender-based violence (GBV)
- Locating psychological support options
- Combatting labour exploitation and human trafficking
- Dealing with language barriers and inclusion on a day-to-day basis
The past year can serve as an important learning experience for the EU institutions, governments IOs, and non-governmental actors. Some possible adjustments should be considered by applying gender- sensitive and cross-cutting diversity methods.
⊲ Consider strengthening the Temporary Protection Directive, based on lessons learned from its first use, to assure more equitable guarantees and safeguards within all member states.
⊲ Coordinate a monitoring system focused on achieving the TPD goals and collect detailed data to this end (data-driven policymaking).
⊲ Ensure better coordination, cooperation and sharing of information on challenges and best practices among EU member states.
⊲ Intensify strategic communication in support of Ukrainian temporary displaced persons (from a gender-sensitive angle).
⊲ Open access to the labour market and encourage job providers to hire temporarily displaced persons through appropriate incentives.
⊲ Secure better access to childcare services.
⊲ Provide full access to healthcare services for all groups of Ukrainian temporary displaced persons.
⊲ Put in place mechanisms to prevent labour and sexual exploitation.
State and non-state actors
⊲ Employ more Ukrainian speaking staff for helplines and train them to provide psychological support – coordinate this among various actors.
⊲ Ensure that all service providers are trained on war trauma and provide trauma-sensitive services.
⊲ Strive towards social inclusion for Ukrainian children and more systemic efforts for broader societal inclusion of Ukrainian temporary displaced persons.
⊲ Focus on removing language barriers to increase social inclusion, levels of employment
and school enrolment among Ukrainian temporary displaced persons.
⊲ To address GBV and human trafficking, develop a comprehensive counterviolence and counter-trafficking response in partnership with all actors (governments, international organisations, and specialist NGOs).
Read the full report below.
*This report forms part of GLOBSEC’s CEE Her Initiative, supported by a grant from the Open Society Initiative for Europe within the Open Society Foundations and by a grant from the European Union (BeEU_2023, Project number 101105019).
*Disclaimer: Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EACEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.