Stories

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As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled to the Republic of Moldova, looking for a safe shelter. Those involved face many challenges, including maintaining psychological balance. For this reason, many psychologists and psychoterapists have started organizing mental health sessions. One of these specialists is Elena Biceva, President of the Moldovan Association of Gestalt Therapy and Psychodrama, who organizes mental health sessions for public servants involved in refugee crisis response. She explains the role of psychological counselling in crisis situations, as well as how to prevent emotional burnout.
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Larysa Denysenko is a journalist, attorney, human rights activist and co-founder of the Association of Women’s Lawyers of Ukraine “JurFem”. Before the war, Denysenko and JurFem mainly advocated for women’s leadership in legal professions, provided mentorship and supported strategic court cases related to domestic violence and gender-based discrimination. Now, this has extended to representing the interests of those who have survived conflict-related sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by the Russian military in Ukraine.
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Ayşegül Küçükafacan is the founder of the Sil Baştan (Start from Scratch) Association for Combatting Violence Against Women and Child Abuse in Balikesir, a city in northwestern Turkey. Due to financial difficulties, she was about to close the association, however a small grant provided by UN Women under the Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality project funded by the European Union, changed the course of things for Küçükafacan. Now, her association continues to combat violence and abuse against women and girls and support those who are subjected to violence.
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Media Development Foundation is a non-profit organisation that supports media organisations in Ukraine. Since the first days of the Russian military invasion, they set up a media assistance coordination center in Chernivtsi, a city in southwestern Ukraine, and assisted with transportation, housing and safe working conditions for journalists and newsrooms across the country.
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In this interview, Gashi explains how the organization’s programme on the economic empowerment of survivors, implemented within the EU-funded regional programme on ending violence against women “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” provides women survivors of violence with the skills and means to provide for themselves and reintegrate independently into their communities.
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Stela Tanellari is the Deputy Director and Reintegration Programme Manager of Different and Equal, an organisation in Albania that provides services for women survivors of violence. It has developed a complex approach for women’s economic reintegration under UN Women’s regional programme on ending violence against women “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” funded by the European Union.
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On International Women’s Day this year, UN Women announced famous Turkish actor Demet Evgar as its first National Goodwill Ambassador in Turkey. Advocating for women’s rights and gender equality, Demet Evgar has been using the power of her art to bring diverse stories of women into to the limelight. She recently kicked-off the #IamaWoman Campaign together with UN Women. Evgar will also work with UN Women to showcase the invisible stories of women.
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Kadem Doğan is a board member of the Freedom and Equality for Women Association based in Adana, a city in southern Turkey. Born in a village in south-eastern Turkey, Kadem started to question the inequalities in society at a young age when she realized the heavy care and domestic work burden carried by the women in her village. Doğan secured a small grant for her Association through the “Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality” project, which is implemented by UN Women with financial support from the European Union. This support helps her strengthen the capacity of her Association in the fight against gender inequalities.
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Known as a pro-feminist and an advocate for gender equality, the famous actor Kerem Bürsin became the first National Advocate of the HeForShe Movement in Turkey. UN Women’s solidarity movement HeForShe offers an innovative and inclusive approach to mobilizing men as partners with women in challenging gender inequalities. 
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Nino Enukidze, the rector of Business and Technology University, is 35 years old. With her direct participation, the university became a signatory to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles in 2019, and to support the involvement of girls in technology, she launched the initiative “Coding School for Women”. With its support, more than 2,500 girls have been trained in technological professions, with 75 per cent of them employed in the industry.
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Raisa Buga has been an educator for 32 years and is currently a geography teacher and the principal of the Dimitrie Cantemir High School in Cornesti town of Ungheni district in Moldova. Being a longstanding local resident, she has always strived to promote gender equality in her community, educating several generations in the spirit of equality and mutual respect.
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Many Syrian women fled the ongoing civil war in Syria, escaping to Turkey. While gender-based violence is a common practice against them, many do not know much about how to report the abuse, local laws, their relevant rights, and options available in Turkey. Despite their fears, Syrian women in Turkey are expressing their experiences to create awareness among refugee and local women as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign.
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Esma Bekkar, from Syria, has been living in Gaziantep province, Turkey since she and her family escaped from the war in 2017. As part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, she attended the “Creating a Violence-free World” workshop, implemented by the UN Women Refugee Response Programme in partnership with the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants’ (SGDD-ASAM).
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Melek El Ahmed, 38, moved to Turkey with her husband and two children in 2013. Having been exposed to some forms of violence in the past, she now advocates for her rights as a woman and prioritizes bringing up her children as equals. In her story, she highlights how discrimination between girls and boys creates a base for violence from a young age, while also sharing what parents can do to leave no space for future violence.
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Müge Yamanyılmaz is the project manager of “Support to Life,” a humanitarian organization promoting basic human rights and needs in rural communities since 2005.
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Mürfet Cacul, a mother of three boys, escaped Syria to Gaziantep, Turkey in 2013. Having been exposed to various types of violence in the past, she joined the “Creating a Violence-free World” workshop held as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. Cacul expresses her views about how dialogue changed her attitude to violence.
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As someone who is fully aware that gender-based violence is one of the biggest obstacles facing refugee women, Hasan participated in the “Creating a Violence-free World” workshop as part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. The workshop is organized by the UN Women Refugee Response Programme in partnership with the Refugee Support Centre (MUDEM-RSC), and financed by the governments of Japan and Norway.
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Based in Şanlıurfa, a city located in southeastern Turkey, Hülya İnan has coordinated the “I am a woman, I have rights” workshops for more than 60 rural women. Within these workshops, organized with the support of the UN Women regional programme “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” funded by the European Union, women learn about their rights and how to assert them.
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Slavica Vasić is the chair and a founder of BIBIJA Roma Women's Centre in Serbia, a civil society organization that is supporting and empowering Roma women. BIBIJA is among the civil society organizations that are participating in the UN Women project ‘Test it, if you tasted it’, focused on revealing the hidden discrimination against marginalized women.
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Jovanka Dimitrijevic, 81, is a retired foreign trade clerk from Belgrade, Serbia’s capital. She participates in the activities of the civil society organization (CSO) Amity, which works for the empowerment of older women and improving their position in society. Amity is among the CSOs that are participating in the UN Women project ‘Test it, if you tasted it’, focused on revealing the hidden discrimination against marginalized women.