Women are playing a significant role in Ukraine’s transformation into a prosperous, democratic and pro-European country.
From members of the Ukrainian parliament to Crimean Tatar activists, women are standing up to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and contributing to their country’s future. Meet seven of these extraordinary women:
A participant in both the 2004 Orange Revolution and the Euromaidan demonstrations of 2013–2014, Hanna Hopko is now a member of Ukraine’s parliament. She co-founded the civil society group Reanimation Package of Reforms, aimed at ridding Ukraine of corruption. She believes Ukraine’s transformation will require patience and a systematic approach.
A former journalist and presidential press secretary, Iryna Herashchenko has supported efforts to press Russia to release Ukrainian pilot and parliamentarian Nadiya Savchenko. She currently chairs the Ukrainian parliamentary committee on issues related to European integration. In 2014, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed her as an envoy for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Activist Maryna Cherenkova was detained for nearly a month in February following a crackdown on aid organizations in Donetsk by Russia-backed separatist forces. As head of the volunteer-run humanitarian aid group Responsible Citizens in Donetsk, her group delivers food, medicine and aid in dangerous areas.
A member of the Ukrainian parliament, Maria Ionova works to ensure gender equality in the government’s social policies as co-chair of the Equal Opportunities Inter-Faction Union. She stated that women in particular “are heavily affected by the conflict in Ukraine, either by acts of violence against them or as the ones who are rebuilding destroyed communities.”
Through her organization Crimea SOS, Crimean Tatar activist Tamila Tasheva helped create an interactive map documenting more than 230 human rights violations in Crimea. The volunteer initiative works to protect the rights of internally displaced persons and others affected by the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
Attorney Oleksandra Matviychuk provides legal assistance to hostages and torture survivors from the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea. She was recognized in February by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe with a Democracy Defender Award for her work as head of the Center for Civil Liberties and at Euromaidan SOS, which she co-founded, and the organizations’ campaign #LetMyPeopleGo.
The Ukrainian singer Jamala — whose given name is Susana Jamaladynova — was selected to represent Ukraine in the 2016 Eurovision contest in Stockholm. Her song “1944”, for which she was nominated, tells the story of her great-grandmother’s deportation from Crimea under Stalin.