In the words of Oleksandra Matviychuk: "In the war with Russia, Ukrainian women are fighting, among other things, to ensure that our daughters will never have to prove to anyone that they are also human."
On October 25, as part of the "Inside Out" project, 50 portraits of outstanding women of today who promote the Women, Peace and Security agenda through their work were installed in front of the main entrance to the UN Headquarters in New York. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the UN Security Council's annual open debate on Women, Peace and Security. The event was a great opportunity to celebrate the important role of women in building and protecting peace in the world: as community members, politicians, mediators and peacemakers who influence and shape the future.
One of the 50 peacemakers featured in the Inside Out photo exhibition under the slogan "Peace begins with her" is Ukrainian human rights activist Oleksandra Matviychuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.
Peace does not come when the attacked country lays down its arms. Then it is not peace, but occupation. The Russian occupation means torture, deportations, forced adoptions, identity bans, filtration camps, and mass graves. That is why women in Ukraine are fighting for peace and freedom. Ukrainian women participate in the decision making, fight in Ukraine’s armed forces, they volunteer and document war crimes. Because courage has no gender.
The war with Russia is not just a war between two states. It is a war between two systems - authoritarianism and democracy. Each of them has its own set of values and attitudes.
In the "russian world," women fulfill only the roles assigned to them in the family and society, and men are supposed to dominate by default. The authoritarian regime is based on these cultural attitudes. Established relationships between people reflect society’s idea of what political power can be. This is how the personal becomes political.
That is the reason why, for instance, in Norway women have equal rights with men, in Afghanistan women are banned from universities, and in Russia domestic violence is decriminalized. Because it is always a projection of what the government itself does to people in that country.
In this war with Russia, Ukrainian women are also fighting to ensure that our daughters will never again have to prove to anyone that they are human beings.
There can be no sustainable peace without justice. This war launched by Russia against Ukraine is the result of the impunity that Russia has enjoyed for decades. Russian troops committed war crimes in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and Libya. And they were never punished. Russia believed that it could do whatever they wanted.
Peace is the freedom to live without fear and to have a long-term perspective. So, my task is to give a chance for justice to every person who suffered in the Russian war against Ukraine. And thus, contribute to the prevention of other wars".