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UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Ashley Judd visited eastern Ukraine to draw attention to the vulnerability of women and girls in conflict 30 may 2016

It was the second visit of a writer and actress Ashley Judd in her role as UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador

The actress visited a maternity clinic, social centers and shelters for internally displaced persons in eastern Ukraine, where she met women, affected by the conflict. Ashley Judd had long conversations with them in Kramatorsk, Slovyansk and Sviatohirsk, where she repeatedly said: "The fact that you suffered violence does not make it your fault. You shouldnt be ashamed of it, you deserve respect for your fight against this problem."

The level of gender-based violence increases dramatically in conflicts and Ukraine is no exception. According to UNFPA study, 22% of women in Ukraine have experienced or continue to suffer from physical or sexual violence, while 2/3 of them have never asked for help.

"We aim to reach out to women affected by violence asking them not to be silent about this shameful phenomenon. Many cases of violence remain unreported. Why? On the one hand, the country lacks quality services to help these people, on the other - there is a tendency to hide the problem", - said Ms. Judd, famous for her humanitarian work protecting the rights of women and girls. "It is confirmed by UNFPA previous studies and experience of work in Ukraine: 80% of women who have experienced violence, never sought for medical services or legal protection. We have to understand that the taboo and stigma against the survivors of gender-based are completely inappropriate and intolerant."

UNFPA works on women empowerment worldwide, implementing programs to prevent gender-based violence and to tackle its effects. Since 2015, UNFPA together with its implementing partner, Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health, has deployed 21 mobile teams to eastern Ukraine, each comprising professional psychologists and social workers. They provide psychosocial support in places where it has not been available before, even in the most remote rural areas. As of May 2016, UNFPA mobile teams provided assistance to over 5,000 people.

During her visit, Ms. Judd also visited Kramatorsk maternity clinic that severely lacked medical supplies. The number of women with pre-term deliveries has increased dramatically during the conflict, also due to the increased number of internally displaced persons. UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador delivered SRH kits with surgery instruments and vital medicines to Kramatorsk clinic.

"Despite the danger, many women pass checkpoints on their way to properly equipped hospitals. In many countries, including Ukraine, UNFPA works to ensure that despite all circumstances, every birth is safe", - said Ashley Judd.

In total, UNFPA delivered 370 SRH kits, 38 000 gynecological kits and 2 incubators for prematurely born babies. In response to the growing needs of women and vulnerable groups, UNFPA jointly with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine continues to implement a project on strengthening humanitarian response to the needs of the most vulnerable women and adolescent girls in five conflict-affected eastern regions.

Photos: UNFPA Ukraine / Maks Levin

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UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

UNFPAs work in Ukraine commenced in 1997. UNFPA focuses on three interlinked areas: reproductive health and rights, population and development, gender equality.

UNFPA is actively contributing to the UN response to the humanitarian situation.

Find out more about the work of UNFPA in Ukraine on the website and www.unfpa.org.ua and in Facebook.

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