Women Using Art and Culture to Build Peace in Ukraine

By Nina Grant

We want to show that…life will go on. We will win [the war] and we can beat the enemy, whether it’s with a paintbrush or with weapons.

Olena Yanko

Women play a crucial role in peacebuilding as they focus on reconciliation, economic development, education, and transitional justice, according to the United States Institute of Peace. Studies have even found that when women are involved in peace agreements, peace is 35% more likely to last a minimum of 15 years.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, women have been fighting for peace in Europe’s second-largest country. One key way they’ve been doing so is through art and culture.

The power of the sunflower

a close-up of a tall sunflower, in a field of sunflowers

Sunflowers are Ukraine’s national flower representing peace and resilience. They have a long history of promoting peace and were used in 1996 when Ukraine rid itself of nuclear weapons. When Russia took over Ukraine last year, painted sunflowers started appearing all over the country, including on burned out cars…

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