#WomenHoldTheLine: Ukrainian women workers fight for peace

As part of this year’s celebration of International Women’s Month, BWI narrates the story of Victoria Sirenko, a 43-year-old Ukrainian woman worker, and a PROFBUD trade union activist. Born in Lithuania, Victoria worked at the Kryvyi Rih Cement Plant as the head of the health center. When Ukraine was invaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces, Victoria served in the 7th Arei Assault Battalion, a well-known battalion in Kryvyi Rih. She is currently a platoon medic of a fire support unit.

“I personally believe that the war concerns each of us, both women and men, and each of us contributes as much as we can to bring victory closer. There are women in the army who work in the kitchen, there are women doctors, there are volunteers, and in general, we all make our own contribution to the everyday affairs of war. Of course, it is very difficult for women to adapt to the conditions of war – to bunkers, trenches, but we do what we can,” Victoria said.

“I really started to appreciate life, to enjoy every new day, every little thing. Before, I didn't pay attention to such things, but being at war changed my perception. Sometimes people say that war makes us more cruel, but it's not true; we become kinder to other people. I want to return to my job after the war; I want to work again with the people I used to work with; I want to come back to my trade union,” Victoria continued.

Victoria explained that because of the war, women in Ukraine have become stronger and more determined to fight for their democratic future. Even the attitude towards International Women's Day has changed. This year, the general disposition of Ukrainian women workers is to fight for peace.

“Women's active position is very important for the development of democracy in society. Women and men in Ukraine should have equal rights in terms of wages, care work, access to education and employment, and other issues. And this is possible only in a state built on democratic principles and respect for human rights. I want a peaceful and democratic future for Ukraine,” Victoria said.