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The Sunflower Effect: Empowering female staff in Ukraine during wartime

    According to UN Women, all wars take a disproportionately bigger toll on women and girls – both physically and emotionally. As the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has taken many men to the frontlines, women also take on more jobs – including positions in international development projects. Here, they navigate cultural differences with international clients and overseas home offices, concern about loved ones affected by the invasion, constant waves of fear and grief, and the challenges of making their voice heard in a society that is still largely traditionally patriarchal.

    Svitlana Ramer has a unique position in this regard: born and raised in Ukraine, she has lived in the US for the past 16 years and has internalized and integrated both cultures. Now traveling to Ukraine as DAI’s Senior Communications Manager for Ukraine Projects, she is learning to navigate boundaries, grief, and speaking up – and empowering Ukrainian female staff to do so along with her. Svitlana will share her realizations of being an “expat national” and share ways in which she is working to help DAI’s female project staff cope with life and work in a conflict affected state.

    Development practitioners in working in other conflict-affected areas will gain tangible, actionable insights into how their own behavior – and interaction with female project staff in-country – can foster a positive, empowering, and uplifting environment for women working in war affected zones.

    Svitlana Ramer, Sr. Communications Manager, Ukraine Projects, DAI

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