International Women's Day 2021: Natalya's Story

At World Jewish Relief we know that investing in a woman’s livelihood is one of the most effective ways to strive for a better world in which human rights are realised, and women and girls can reach their potential and build independent and dignified lives.

To mark International Women’s Day, we are sharing the stories of a few women who have been through our employment programmes. Having faced immense challenges, from displacement and conflict to disasters, they have successfully built or rebuilt their livelihoods, found employment and become independent. Here is Natalya's story:

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Natalya is 48 years old, a widow, and has an elderly mother and a teenage son. She is from Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, an area that has faced hostilities and periods of armed conflict since 2014. Before 2014, Natalya had a stable career as the Financial Director of a group of companies. However, when hostilities broke out local businesses crashed, and employees were left without work. Natalya was forced to leave her career, apartment, and everything she knew, and move to the city of Dnipro.

Like so many internally displaced persons, Natalya had to build her life from scratch in an unfamiliar city. Natalya found it difficult to adapt to this new reality, in particular the absence of a regular income and close circle of friends. She needed to find flexible work so she could look after her mother, whose health worsened due to the stress of the move, and her son, who struggled with the transition.

In January 2019 Natalya heard about World Jewish Relief’s employment programme, delivered by local partner ‘Fund for Professional Development’, and decided to join. She was offered training in effective workplace communication and dealing with conflict. She also joined a support group and received psychological assistance, which helped her work through the stress and family challenges she had experienced. She received support with CV writing, and eventually even volunteered running classes on financial literacy for other programme participants.

Through the programme, Natalya decided to look for work in the public sector and was supported with her job search. She secured a role within the Dnipro career hub, through which she expanded her circle of acquaintances and her self-confidence was able to grow. In late-2019 Natalya was offered a job as the Head of Profit Analysis in Ukraine’s largest bank.

Natalya said:

I cannot overstate the importance of World Jewish Relief’s employment project to me. I not only recovered my professional career, but I began to feel at home in Dnipro. I met a lot of wonderful people, who enabled me to lead a full life, something I had not been able to do since leaving my home city. I know that I can reach out to the project any time I need support, and someone will have time to answer my questions.

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