In the midst of indescribable atrocities occurring within the Ukraine, like many others I have spoken to since news of the very first attack, I am shocked, saddened and feel entirely helpless in response to the anguish and despair of so many who are affected. As this continues to be played out on the global digital stage and realising what is shared must only be the tip of the iceberg, not a single day passes whereby my thoughts and prayers are not with those who have lost their lives, or who are suffering as a result of this terrible human tragedy.  

The women in the Ukraine have deeply touched my heart with their extraordinary acts of courage. From painful decisions to leave loved ones behind after travelling to the border in the most dangerous of circumstances; to staying behind in Ukrainian cities, towns and villages without sustainable access to food, clothing and utilities, supporting the elderly, homeless, sick, those sheltering in places of worship or hiding underground; to those who have joined the military response, like many others from across the world, I am deeply moved.  

Equally to those women in the Ukraine who are continuing to serve as doctors, nurses, paramedics, journalists, community and faith leaders and more, it is important to recognise their selfless and inspiring acts of service too. 

As International Women’s Day is fundamentally about forging a better, more inclusive world where difference is valued, it feels entirely appropriate to take a moment to pay special tribute to those who have lost their lives, in addition to the tremendous humanitarian efforts and bravery of so many women and young girls who have and will continue to play a vital role either within the Ukraine or supporting loved ones following displacement.  

This week a Ukrainian friend in Kyiv sent me a text stressing that the support from so many from across the world is “felt and provides great strength”. It is important we all keep this going.  

Ellen Thinnesen, CEO, Education Partnership North East

Staff and students at Education Partnership North East are supporting humanitarian efforts through fund raising and the provision of relief aid. For those who wish to donate, the UK Government is urging the public to ‘give safely’. More information can be found here: Ukraine: what you can do to help – GOV.UK ( 

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