Ukrainian Women

I’ve now been in Kyiv for a year and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about the beauty, power, strength, and intelligence of Ukrainian women. I only hope I can do them the justice they deserve as I express my admiration for these incredible women.

Not your Average Man

Most of the men I’ve met in Ukraine are awesome dudes working hard as baristas, bartenders, drivers, servers and cooks and they’re all great. However, most of the women I’ve met are fashion designers, musicians, marketing executives, event planners, teachers, politicians and deputy ministers. Women seem to hold most of the top jobs in Ukraine. In fact, it’s rare to encounter a company with fewer than 50% female managers and directors. Why? I’m not sure, but perhaps it’s a result of the higher proportion of women aged 30-34 having completed post-secondary education in Ukraine (65%), than in the EU (46%), and well above Ukrainian men according to figures from 2021.

Dressed for Success

Ukrainian women are some of the most fashionable in the world, especially the young, progressive women that will determine Ukraine’s future. 

This weekend was Kyivness at Hotel Bursa. Kyivness is a fashion event where emerging Ukrainian designers like Roxy Levkovska showcase their latest creations. Roxy is a one-woman brand and everything she sells is original and handmade. She began her career at a major Ukrainian label called Better, but her career was cut short when she was forced to flee because of the war. 

After relocating to her grandmother’s home in the country, Roxy began repurposing her Baba’s tablecloths into corsets and her grandfather’s old shirts became a woman’s jacket. After a year of building her brand on Instagram, her business is finally taking off. Roxy is just one of many Ukrainian women who have turned adversity into opportunity. The confidence that she could build a unique fashion brand while war continues to ravage her country is an incredible example of how Ukrainian women cannot, and will not be defeated.

No Street lights? No Problem

As things were winding down at the end of another night at Hotel Bursa, the gang was planning their way home before curfew. It was 10:30 and the Metro was about to close, so they all had to rush for the last train. Barbara, a brilliant aspiring bio-medical engineer, lives at the end of one of the lines – a 40-minute train ride from Podil. Furthermore, after that leg she has a 15-minute walk through the dark streets of suburban Kyiv.

For Barbara, like all the Ukrainian women I’ve met, the idea of walking home alone in the dark after a long train ride is not an issue. It’s just what you do. I’m not saying that walking late at night is without risk, it’s just not a risk to the average Ukrainian woman. You need to get home, and that means walking in the dark, period.

Strong Women – Strong Nation

Even the Ukrainian military is heavily populated by women with more than 50,000 female soldiers serving and over 10,000 in active duty on the front lines. That’s 16% of their armed forces and it’s growing. In fact, October 2022 saw the first all-female prisoner of war exchange including 37 women who fought at the grisly Battle of Azovstal.

One thing I’ve learned after a year in Kyiv  is that one must never underestimate the power, strength and intelligence of Ukrainian women. Ukraine is considered the motherland of the Slavic people  and the world can thank Ukrainian women for that.

Slava Ukraini!  Slava Ukrainian Women!