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The History of NGO Girls

The story of Girls begins with a confused woman who has just become a mother, and realized that she is not ready for this enormous change. With a teenage girl who experiences her first period and has no one to turn to for advice and to ask "uncomfortable" questions. With a schoolgirl who is just beginning her life's journey, but does not understand her own body. With a mother of many children who is fully immersed in raising them, but does not see opportunities for her own development and self-realization.

The idea of ​​creating Girls

In 2016, Girls’ founder, Yuliya Sporysh, was preparing to give birth to her second child in a Kyiv maternity hospital. It was there that she met gynecologist Dr. Natalia Yaremchuk, a future collaborator with Girls, who not only gave birth herself, but also guided young mothers in their first days of being in their new role.

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At the same time, there was another woman in the same maternity hospital who played an important role in the genesis of the Girls organization. She was sad and confused, as well as completely unprepared for pregnancy and childbirth. Her lack of information about her body, the process of childbirth, and motherhood made her feel like a victim of circumstances instead of feeling able to enjoy the anticipation of the new life she was to bring into the world.

This woman, whose name has been lost in the webs of the past, was the impetus for the idea and mission of Girls.
What prevents young Ukrainian women from being more aware and happy during childbirth? What prevents them from building a successful career, combining motherhood with other self-realization?

Many women and girls today lack sufficient awareness of their own physiology and information that helps them to build happy, diverse lives.

Determined and inspired, Yuliya Sporysh organized the first Lectures for Girls series. This was the first name of our project. Dr. Yaremchuk from the maternity hospital served as our first lecturer.
The first lectures on female physiology and health were organized for a small circle of girls she knew aged 12-15. Sometimes, the girls’ mothers got them tickets to the lecture, but they didn’t end up coming: they were ashamed, or did not understand why they needed all this. But the interesting topics of the lectures and the enthusiastic feedback from the listeners gradually did their job, andLectures for Girls gained popularity.

2019

An important development in our project came in 2019 in a rather unusual place: on a plane from Singapore to Berlin. During the long flight, our founder made an important decision: to start systematic fundraising and create a formal NGO. Thus, Lectures for Girls was transformed into the Girls NGO.

Yuliya devoted the rest of 2019 to fundraising, looking for funds and partners for new initiatives. From her first meetings and website views, she found real interest and support for Girls. There were of course those who didn’t see why there was a need for girls to learn more deeply about their bodies and their sexual health, but they thankfully were in the minority.

Meanwhile, numerous requests for lectures for both boys and girls came schools and parent committees. Gradually, we developed a circle of lecturers and our first organizational ambassadors.

2020

And that's when the spring of 2020 came and changed life around the world as we knew it. With the arrival of the pandemic, we had to abandon our public in-person events, but we kept looking for new opportunities for educational activities.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Girls was able to receive a big break in the fall of 2020 when we were invited to work with UNICEF. At the time, we were a small organization, and the trust of a large sponsor like UNICEF pushed us us to grow and develop at a breakneck pace. In the winter of 2021, we began work on the Health Without Shame program with their support.
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This cooperation allowed us to develop organizational policies, as well as gain experience in reporting, media communications, and more. As we worked on the project according to UNICEF’s standards (among the most exacting in the world), we had to meet them and grow as quickly as possible.

«Health without Shame»

The active phase of the Health Without Shame project came during quarantine, which added to our difficulties. We received requests for offline classes, which was due to additional logistical difficulties.

Due to changing pandemic conditions,, we sometimes had to postpone lectures at the last minute, and redirect our hygiene kits and leaflets to other locations. But we did it! And we continue to work with UNICEF on new projects.

With a fantastic project team of 30 people and mentoring support from our sponsor, Girls organized and conducted thousands of hours of lectures in remote villages and small towns in Ukraine for more than 100,000 children.

Effective cooperation and UNICEF’s high standards have become a guide for us in the world of large donors. And even the pandemic could not hold Girls back from growing.
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From our origins as a small but ambitious organization, we have become a reliable partner capable of carrying out full-scale nationwide projects around Ukraine. We will get it done!

After the formal completion of Health without Shame, the project has continued on. 250 teachers from schools across Ukraine expressed a desire to receive training on teaching children about menstrual health and hygiene. Therefore, Girls conducted a series of training workshops which have enabled teachers to continue instructing children on these topics.
We have also opened access to Health Without Shame’s materials, which can be found here  We are grateful to UNICEF for their trust and the opportunity they gave us for such rapid growth. This stage prepared the Girls for more coordinated and effective work in the next period of our history.

2022

Girls began confronting the challenges caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine almost as soon as it had begun.

Yuliya Sporysh was one of the first to be directly affected by the attack, as Russian occupiers soon entered her home city of Irpin, right outside of Kyiv.
To keep her four children safe, she and her husband evacuated their family under fire to Western Ukraine, and then to Poland. The road has been difficult, but when it comes to protecting one’s children, there is no time for despair.

As soon as Yuliya and her family were safe, she immediately began putting Girls to work helping to respond to the catastrophe of the war.
On February 28, 2022, Yuliya Sporysh opened a new chapter in our organization’s history using her own funds. The next day, the organization delivered its first targeted financial assistance to affected areas in Kyiv Region.

Working quickly, we were able to enlist the help of private donors and receive a grant from the Ukrainian Women's Foundation, which allowed Girls to help even more affected districts of the Kyiv Region.

During the war, Girls has implemented projects providing humanitarian and psychological assistance to teenagers, women, and children from large families. We are doing everything possible and a little more to help the children and women of Ukraine to get through this difficult period as well as possible. We have joined international assistance projects and attracted additional sponsors, which allows us to help even more effectively by delivering humanitarian aid to the most affected regions of Ukraine, organizing our IDP Shelter Center, providing psychological assistance, and offering therapy for of survivors of sexual violence.
February 2022 brought tremendous pain, sorrow, and destruction to the whole of Ukraine. But as Ukrainians continue their resistance, Ukrainian women continue to give birth and raise children, support their families, and make a living, work. Ukraine’s girls continue to grow and look for themselves.

From the little idea of ​​a woman with a big heart, the Girls has gone beyond its original vision to become a provider of aid and assistance all over Ukraine to people in need.

Together, we are strong and we will endure.
Thank you for being with us.
Join the projects and initiatives of Girls.
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NGO «Girls»

Mayakovsky ave., 89B, office 10

Kyiv

02064

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