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I am Ukrainian and I am not a prostitute

made_in_ukraine.jpg

What you think about Ukrainian women if I tell you the words from one of the famous Ukrainian feminist leader “People in the West already think of Ukrainian women as prostitutes”? Curiously, her group is called Femen, which is known all around the world for its “original” topless protest street actions.
Let me tell you something: Ukrainian women are tender mothers, loving wives, trustful friends and committed and honest workers. But how many people know this if the simple search in Google for “Ukrainian woman” gives as results: dating, marriage, romance tours for foreigners, scammers, prostitution, etc. Just to compare, search in Google for “European woman” gives these results: chess championship, professional networks, lobbying union. Search for “American woman” – professional, political and medical centers, etc.
You also feel the difference?..
And now, after all these adjectives, tell me please what I suppose to feel when I meet foreigners and tell them “Hi, my name is Iryna. I’m from Ukraine”? Besides feeling a little bit confused because all these stereotypes, I feel proud. Proud to be Ukrainian, because I know Ukrainian women are not only beautiful, we are also smart, well educated and very professional in our work. I know it because every day I improve my skills, but, unfortunately, in my life so many times I lived the same as my female friends: situations when our nationality and gender plays against us.
The situation within Ukraine sometimes is even worse. Ukrainian society gets in panic when they hear about “feminism”. They imagine some man looking creature who forget about her female essence and fights for some ghosts that not exist. “Nude radicals” – this name Ukrainian fighters for women’s rights deserved because of Femen, the only famous feminist movement in my country.
Preparing this article I’ve made a little investigation to find out if really exists in Ukraine such a concept as Feminism. The results were more than interesting: Women in Ukraine believe they no need such movements. They think they have rights and Ukraine is known as matriarchal country with strong wife leader who controls and defends the family and all around.
Meanwhile the truth is that in Ukrainian parliament women’s part is still less than 8% (almost the same level as in Muslim countries). Only 6% of Ukrainian women manage business with more than 250 workers. Why? Because we are worse than men? We are not so smart? I don’t believe this.
World Bank made an interesting research with amazing conclusions: women’s presence in parliament decrease corruption. How is connected? I have an assumption. Ukraine is a big model of a family, with children and household. It’s woman’s nature to take care about her nest, to feed and protect her family. Women in power will never accept legislation which can hurt children.
Nowadays my country moves to Europe Community. At least it wants. I want the same. I want Ukraine develop its economy and life level up to West European countries. I want to participate in this process. But we must to change something on the road: Women must to make their voice be heard. And we need all tools available to do it.
Think globally, act locally! This environmental slogan works not only for nature protection. I have my plan to contribute to my country and to other countries which live in the same conditions.
First of all: women need to understand that they live under the glass ceiling.
Second: they must speak about it. No need to hide, no need to think they are weak and lonely. If one woman begins to speak others support her and their voice becomes stronger.
Third, and for me is the most important. I want my daughter grows in the environment where woman is respected, can develop her skills, where the only border is the sky. I’m working to build this country, a better country where all people, regardless of their gender, have voice, a beautiful voice which deserves to be heard.
I want to become one of the Voices of Our Future. I want the world follow this amazing story, participate in it, make our voice sound stronger and watch how Ukraine and the whole world changes for better future.

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Adepeju's picture

Insightful piece filled with

Insightful piece filled with passion for country and women. Thank you for wanting to change the face of ukraine in the minds of people and for wanting to change the negative thoughts about the women in your country. Thank you Iryan for rising up for the women in your community.

Iryna's picture

Women of the world

You know, Adepeju, I really believe, maybe very naive, that women can change many things. Just because their view is wider, because of their maternal instinct. They can take leading position in nature protection movements, in health related issues because it is their nature - to protect, defend and take care. I believe in women of the world. They can! :)

Stella Paul's picture

It will happen

"I want my daughter grows in the environment where woman is respected, can develop her skills, where the only border is the sky."- what a beautiful vision. It has to happen, when you have so much will power and support from many, including me!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Iryna's picture

Just all

Thank you, Stella, for your support! I think no need to explain what a woman can make because of her child. Just... she can make all! ;)

joyacomeaux's picture

Stereotypes!

Hello Iryna,

Thanks for sharing your voice!

We all must have a way to express ourselves and speak our truth.

I wish you all the best,
joya

Iryna's picture

Speaking loudly

Thanks, Joya! I am sure, when women speak together they can speak very loudly ;)

Maggs's picture

The labelling and

The labelling and stereotyping does more harm than people know. I am even ashamed to admit that the media perpetuates this - they are the worst. But we can through media, change perceptions and reverse stereotypes.

maggs

Iryna's picture

Playing games

I think for media is very easy to play with stereotypes. To build a new image is much more difficult. Sometimes it helps to find common language speaking about well known things. But when I see this stereotype is stupid and humiliating I refuse to play this game.

Rakiba's picture

Together we will..

Thanks Iryna for rhis wonderful patriotic story..
Yes,you are true that it is very difficult to build a new image.But,it is not impossible....We are here to support you with everything and probably today we will not make a difference.But,I am sure tomorrow it will certainly make a difference.

Always have your Spirits high..! !

Much Love..

Iryna's picture

For sure ;)

Thank you, Rakiba! Sometimes it really seems impossible to fight against stereotypes. But who makes them if not we? Then you are right, nothing is impossible. And I'm very happy to find so strong support here. I appreciate and... we will win! ;)

Tawjna's picture

You are a good example

Hello Iryna,

I think by just being here you make a good example of what you want to see. I think it is Mahatma Ghandi that said - "You must first become the change you want to see."Being must always precede doing. Being is what makes us authentic. Authenticity gives our voice its volume and gives your voice the ability to give life, reshape mentalities and hopefully inspire a change in perception, reception and lifestyle. Your voice will be loud, just because you are.

Thank you for sharing.

Tawjna

jonas's picture

Hello Irina

I need to be honest because as a guy who was scammed by an Ukrainian girl and its boyfriend I have to say that this is the firs time in my life that I have to cross trough an horrible situation like this... in my case my experience it was 100 time worst that any stereotype you can see in media.

As a Russian language student I became in contact with the Ukrainian society and most of the times I had to face the constantly corruption of people who tried to take advantage of me, well... finally the woman who made me went and stayed there the one who did it in complicity with his secret boyfriend.

I would really like that each person not only in Ukraine but also in any part of the world can read your article. I would like all children like the one I spent my time with in Kherson have a mother like you... if that happen Ukraine would be a very different country and it wont be necessary to scam foreigners to succeed.

God bless you and your admirable job.

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