Ukraine’s adolescent girls suffer lost education and mental health struggles amid war

By Plan International

Ukraine’s adolescent girls suffer lost education and mental health struggles amid war

A new report highlights the harsh realities faced by adolescent girls and youth caught in the crossfire. Girls displaced by the war in Ukraine face severe educational disruption and mental health challenges.

A new report, Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Voices from Ukraine, Poland, and Romania, published by Plan International, highlights the harsh realities faced by adolescent girls and youth (aged 10-19) caught in the crossfire.

“Even in our own house, we don’t feel safe anymore. The night is the hardest, with the endless sound of sirens,” said Inna, a 15-year-old girl who lives near Kyiv whilst discussing the constant state of alertness her family experiences.

Girls are facing significant challenges

The research reveals that both those who remain in Ukraine and those who have fled to neighboring countries such as Moldova, Poland, and Romania are facing significant challenges. Their education has been severely disrupted, with many falling behind in their studies or dropping out entirely.

The war and displacement have made them vulnerable to sexual harassment and exploitation, while also leading to a surge in anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues among these girls.

Despite these hardships, the report also reveals the remarkable resilience of these girls. Despite the challenges they face, they hold onto a clear vision for a future built on peace and inclusivity.

“Through this research, we uncover the often-ignored voices and perspectives of adolescent girls affected by the war in Ukraine. Sadly, their opinions are often overlooked. Adolescent girls and young people in all their diversity must be included in the recovery and reconstruction of their country, to achieve gender equality, and women’s and girls’ rights”, said Sven Coppens, Director of Plan International’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Response in East and Central Europe.

Delivering essential services

Plan International has been actively supporting those affected by the war in Ukraine since 2022, reaching nearly 650,000 individuals, including over 259,000 girls and boys. The efforts focus on delivering essential services in critical areas such as mental health and psychosocial support, education, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The report serves as a powerful call to action for donors, practitioners, and policymakers ahead of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, Germany which begins on 11th June 2024.

The report underscores the need for immediate and targeted interventions to address the critical needs of adolescent girls in and from Ukraine. Prioritising their access to education, mental health services, and participation in recovery efforts.

This is essential to ensure a more sustainable and equitable future as the war continues to have a devastating impact on their mental health, their ability to go to school, their sense of safety, and their access to sexual and reproductive health services.