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Education opens windows


“Mama was washing a window, papa was reading a newspaper”, everyone who was born in the USSR knows this phrase because is the very first we’ve learnt to read. There are feminine work and masculine work. We know about it from the first images of our childhood, we received them with breast milk.

A girl in Ukraine grows in circumstances of poverty, inequality between women and men, without a perspective to receive a good work and high salary. Their mothers understand the difficulty of such situation. That’s why the main goal for them is… to find a good couple for a girl, the earlier the better. They understand that good education is nothing, because it doesn’t give you confidence in future. The main is to marry, with someone who already has or potentially will have a house and a car.

Some people begin to think that education loses its sense. My niece is 16 years old; she studies in the college and will be an accountant soon. Is not because she wants, is because was an opportunity to receive some profession faster. In the college she received proposals to enter the University. But she doesn’t see the prospect. Neither her mother. Her mother forces her to begin searches for a husband. Or another option my niece has is to follow the example of her other aunt. After graduating from the University she went to work into Germany as a baby sitter to find a German man and marry with him.

This is the picture of modern Ukraine. Even highly educated women often have to prove their qualifications by the sweat of their brow. And still, being a professional, you will prepare tea for men in your office, because you are a woman. Women in my work do.

The economic hard times has lead to a depression of women’s psychological state with loss of self-esteem and hope for the future. Women accept unlikely offers of employment in unskilled jobs at high salaries with the resignation that “it cannot be worse” than their present lives.

It resulted that trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation became a serious problem in Ukraine affecting 100,000s of victims and their families.

Trafficking and prostitution are highly gendered systems that result from structural inequality between women and men on a world scale. Men create the demand and women are the supply. Survivors often recount their experiences spent in sex industries as being abusive, degrading, and harmful to their health and well being.

Women become desperate because they don’t believe that education will provide them with a good job, but without it their attempts to find a better place often finish tragically.

Fortunately, the situation began to change a little. Yes, Ukraine still needs to combat stronger and prevent trafficking in women; but women begin to understand they have rights. We should teach our daughters that potential doesn’t have gender difference and everyone can choose any profession and deserve to receive a good salary. More women go to business and we need more special courses on how to start your own business and how a woman can survive in modern world.

Education in different direction is the most powerful instrument to change the society and change the world. I teach my daughter and my niece that education is important, because it brings confidence and respect. And teaching them I use my example. I have two master degrees, I speak three languages, I travel in other countries, my work gives me satisfaction because we fight for good things: for nature and humans rights protection. I feel free to develop myself not only as a housekeeper, but in so many different ways: as a woman, as a professional, as a social activist. And the main I have is the right to determine my future. If we understand this we will bring changes!

Many women beginning their lives with “washing the window” continue rubbing it till high gloss and cannot go through it. This window even has a name – “glass ceiling”. But if you look deeper, this glass has a handle and is possible to open this window to let in the wind of change. And who knows, maybe this wind will carry away the newspaper from papa’s hands.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Sharontina's picture


All i can say is Wow. Powerful writing. Wonderful thoughts. The wind has already carried the newspaper away, the news of ignorance and discrimination.


Merlin Sharontina

Iryna's picture

Warmest wishes

Thanks a lot, Sharontina! Only together we can change the situation and we are doing this!

Warmest wishes from Ukraine,

Stacey Rozen's picture

Insightful look through your

Insightful look through your open window's perspective, Iryna. It has opened an educational adventure for you similar to Alice in 'Through the Looking Glass'. Thanks for sharing.


Iryna's picture

That's an amazing comparison,

That's an amazing comparison, Stacey! You hit the mark with Alice. I think sometimes to find the solution of an old problem we need to change the viewing angle. It helps to notice things we did not notice before and is very possible we will see clear how to change the situation!

Thank you for your comment!

A hug from the Black Sea,

Stacey Rozen's picture


Windows as symbols of Wonderland :). What an amazing view you have, Iryna.


That's why we´re all here!!!

Klaudia González

Iryna's picture

Let's do it!

Thank you, dear Klaudia! We will do it!

A hug,

Carmen's picture

Excellent piece! Your writing

Excellent piece! Your writing is powerful and educational. You are a poetic inspiration. Thank you!


Iryna's picture

Thank you, Carmen, for your

Thank you, Carmen, for your support!

Warmest greetings from Ukraine,

Falchemist's picture

That infernal window!!

They might not make exactly the choices you would be happy with, Iryna, but with you as their standard, chances are, your daughter and your niece will grow up to be one of those women who either are empowered to open that window you speak of, or get to walk through it because you hold it open it for them. Keep on teaching, Iryna. Other daughters and nieces will benefit from your work.

P.S. Thanks for sharing so bravely and openly.

Iryna's picture

To support

I know there are no good or bad choices, there are differents scenarios of our lives to choose. But I will be always near to support any of our girls!
Thank you for your comment, Falchemist, you see things deep, is a gift.

Warmest greetings from Ukraine,

aimeeknight's picture

You have wonderful story

You have wonderful story telling abilities. Your opening sentence was a great way to begin, "“Mama was washing a window, papa was reading a newspaper”, everyone who was born in the USSR knows this phrase because is the very first we've learnt to read. There are feminine work and masculine work." Immediately the reader is given a sense of the barriers to a girl's education. Keep up the great work!

"One shoe can change a life" ~ Cinderella

Iryna's picture

One shoe

Thank you for your words, Aimee! I liked so much your expression about Cinderella, this is so true! You never know what little thing can change your life!

A hug,

libudsuroy's picture

Dear Iryna, Thank you for

Dear Iryna,
Thank you for generous story -- it has become my window to your world! I share the love for open windows. I also like the metaphor of open window, too. But you went much further, you explored the other side of that window, the closed window of opportunity for women that culture imposes on our kind. Keep writing as I keep on listening!

libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Iryna's picture


Thank you, libudsuroy, for your words and your support! So many times in our lives all we need is just to open some window to let fresh air get in. I hope it will bring changes to us also.

Warmest greetings with breeze from the Black Sea,

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