As the crisis in Ukraine has unfolded, the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and Purposeful came together quickly to move resources to organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) with a focus on young disabled activists and disabled women-led groups – as their lives are disproportionately impacted and deprioritized in crises.

We moved together with speed, trust, and solidarity to do what neither could do alone. The past three years of seemingly unending crises have taken their toll on all of us – but have also proved fertile ground for feminist funders to reimagine the way philanthropy can work. A chance to connect with our core, to centre our values, and to foreground solidarity over structure, partnership over process. A chance to move beyond an organisational approach to a collective organising strategy.

In philanthropy, we talk a lot about social justice ecosystems. This is often a conceptual conversation, but what does it mean in practice? What does it mean to be in the ecosystem together and to work in solidarity? What does it mean to actually collaborate by moving resources together to truly advance a shared goal?

Sometimes being in solidarity means just picking up the phone and saying, ‘Can we help?’ This can happen when you’re in a relationship with other organisations and movements on a regular basis. It’s about ‘trusting trust’ and not having to manufacture a strategic process at every turn.

When Russia invaded Ukraine and completely upended the lives of everyone – particularly women and girls, persons with disabilities, and other marginalised populations – we knew help was needed, and that these were the groups that would get left behind. As Tanya Herasymova of Fight for Right, an OPD leading emergency response for Ukrainians with disabilities and a grantee, shared through a tweet: ‘War added a new identity: a refugee. It’s a challenge for me but also a privilege: not every person with disabilities in Ukraine has a possibility to flee from the country. It was not a hard or easy decision. It was the only way to survive as wheelchair user.’

Read the full article about disability rights in Ukraine by Jen Bokoff and Rosa Bransky at Alliance Magazine.