“For the first time, we are holding the UWC in the conditions of full-scale war,” Olena Kondratiuk, co-founder of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress and Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, said.
In his opening remarks for the Congress participants, Director of the National Democratic Institute in Ukraine Ian Woodward said, “The resilience demonstrated by Ukrainian women and men is simply extraordinary”.
More than 30 speakers took part in three discussion panels. The first discussion was devoted to the new challenges for women’s movement, and participants raised questions about new conditions, in which women have to act.
A historian, researcher and Ukrainian feminism activist, Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak, addressed participants of the Regional UWC:
“I bow my head to your fruitful work, contemporary women of Ukraine. Glory and honor to you; may the warmth of the Almighty forces embrace you in these trying days,” Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak, a historian, researcher and Ukrainian feminism activist, ex-vice president of the Ukrainian Women’s Union of America, said.
Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak mentioned that as a result of historical gravity of feminist movements in Ukraine, we are currently seeing active work of women on various fronts.
Serhii Haidai, Head of Luhansk Military Civil Administration, thanked women for their courage and heroism. He was talking about the doctors who do not leave Luhansk region and do their job, save people, and deploy humanitarian headquarters. “Without any pathos, women do heroic deeds at war,” Serhii Haidai said.
The second panel discussion was dedicated to the issue of new economic opportunities for women. Participants of the discussion spoke about successful initiations that launch the Ukrainian economy, create new jobs, and ensure proper relocation of businesses to safe regions of Ukraine.
The Regional Women’s Congress in Ivano-Frankivsk was hosted by partners from Promprylad. Renovatsia.
“In the conditions of war, there is no competition. We managed to move 46 businesses to Ivano-Frankivsk. At Promprylad.Renovatsia we placed 13 teams,” Alina Tokmylenko, Operations Director of Promprylad. Renovatsia Innovative Center, said.
Since the beginning of war. Promprylad. Renovatsia launched two initiatives – the first for providing everything necessary to Prykarpattia battalion. The second is business-related – Save Business Now initiative.
Save Business Now helps businesses as well as research and scientific communities that are forced to move their activities to the Ivano-Frankivsk region due to the war, and local businesses that adapt their business models to the new condition.
The third discussion brought together women who demonstrate leadership in community and volunteer movements. The discussion was aimed at answering the question how volunteer and social initiatives help Ukrainian men and women overcome the challenges of war today, and how such initiatives will facilitate return of refugees and restoration of the country after Ukraine’s victory.
“Since 2014, we have been providing assistance to vulnerable groups of the population in the buffer zone in Eastern Ukraine,” Tetiana Stavnycha, President of Caritas Ukraine said.
Olga Rudneva, Coordinator of Help Ukraine Center, also shared her experience as a volunteer: “We realized that women have a lot of problems at the front – absence of procurement of hygiene products, footwear for women, helmets that do not have the right size, women’s underwear”.
Help Ukraine Center was organized during the first week of war by Ukrainian businesses. These businesses wanted to demonstrate their superpower – to organize logistics.
Svitlana Voitsekhovska, co-founder of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress, who is currently engaged in supporting Ukrainian forced migrants in Poland, also addressed participants of the Congress: “Ukrainian women struggled for the right to choose their role. There are 40,000 women serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, millions who are engaged in volunteer activities around the world, each in her own place. It is the right to choose their place that has been the asset of the Ukrainian women from the 19th century and until today”.
During online sessions, volunteers from various European cities – Berlin, Prague, Wroclaw, Bucharest – shared their success stories and plans.
“The issue of weapons is a humanitarian issue for us,” Mariya Ionova, co-founder of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress and Member of Parliament of Ukraine, said in her closing remarks at the Regional Women’s Congress.
The war changed our requests. The security issue is our first priority, and we all are working for victory today. The entire world is proud of our ability to stand up to such challenges.