What does nezlamna mean? It’s a unique Ukrainian word meaning invincible, unbreakable, resilient. The word has taken on a special meaning for millions of Ukrainians since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
In this photo project we present 18 Ukrainian women who embody their nation’s invincibility. Many of the women are shown holding flowers – symbols of fragile beauty that can in fact show remarkable resilience and strength, standing tall in the harshest conditions.
The women chosen for the NEZLAMNA project have all taken refuge in the UK. All have left loved ones behind. As well as husbands and partners (able-bodied men 18-60 years old cannot leave the country by law), they have parents, friends, and adult children still in Ukraine.
None of our nezlamna women had been planning to leave their country. They had the trappings of comfortable modern life – houses, cars, possessions – and more importantly they lived among communities and people they loved. Most of the women told us their main reason for leaving was the safety and mental health of their children.
In some of our photos, the women hold small personal items they brought with them. Many people had to flee with little more than the bare essentials, so these treasured items have taken on an even more poignant significance.
Our colour palette echoes the blue and yellow bands of the national flag, representing the vastness of Ukraine’s sky over an abundant field of wheat.
We created the NEZLAMNA project to chronicle the lives of these ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances. We dedicate this project to all of Ukraine’s nezlamna women, whether they reached safety abroad, stayed at home, or left for the front line to defend their country, people, and way of life.