2024-06-19

Alla Shvets on the Local History channel: How did women change Ukrainian history?

Alla Shvets, Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Women’s League, Doctor of Philology, Deputy Director for Research at the Ivan Franko Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, spoke about how women changed Ukrainian history on the Local History YouTube channel in the program "Without Bromine".

Ms. Alla studies the history of the Ukrainian and international women's movement, women's writing, intellectual biographies of prominent representatives of the Ukrainian women's movement and literature, and is the author of a lecture course on women's history "Woman and the Spirit of the Times," more than 150 scientific publications, including the scientific monograph "A Woman with Ariadne's Talent. The First Intellectual Biography of Natalia Kobrynska's Life and Work".

In the issue, Alla Shvets spoke about how the women's movement spread, how effective the organization of the women's movement was, and about the creation of the Union of Ukrainian Women. The issue also touched on the issues of women at the front and the church's attitude to the women's movement.

"In Galicia, there were many small local women's organizations, more than 30. These included the Trud Society, the Ukrainian Girls Club, and the Women's Community. All of them operated in isolation. And we must pay tribute to the fact that women managed to unite, unite, and choose their areas of activity so well that in 1917, on the basis of the Hanna Barvinok Circle, they managed to build such a powerful organization called the Union of Ukrainian Women. Its phenomenality was that during the interwar period it actually became the largest women's organization in Europe, both in terms of its size and the form of its functioning, with approximately 60,000 members. This was a lot. The organization had an interesting structure, a vertical management structure. It had a central office in Lviv on Pidvalna Square. Then there were branches in the largest county towns and activities in villages. And it was the activities in villages in the form of circles that gave the Union of Ukrainian Women such a large membership. As Hanna Chykalenko wrote, our Ukrainian women's movement is distinguished by its active work in the countryside, because various educational groups and schools for cutting and sewing functioned there to provide women with education. It was in the countryside that such integration events or holidays as the Peasant Woman's Day or Mother's Day were founded.

It is also very interesting that the Ukrainian women's movement of the interwar period, which is most identified with the Union of Ukrainian Women, had a strong international presence. Thanks to the intensification of the migration movement, it was possible to unite all the international centers of the women's movement, and the centers of the Union of Ukrainian Women operated throughout Europe, even in America and Canada. This led to the very powerful international character of this movement. I would say that during the interwar period, in the 20s and 30s, the Union of Ukrainian Women had offices in the three largest international representations of the women's movement at that time. These were the International Women's Council, the International League for Peace and Freedom, and the International Suffragette Movement. It is clear that Ukrainian women had some difficulties there because they were perceived as a Polish minority, so there was often a threat of exclusion. But thanks to the powerful influence of our iconic Ukrainian women, such as Nadia Surovtsova, Milena Rudnytska, Olena Kysilevska, and Sofia Rusova, we managed to maintain this representation. And from the highest political tribunes, our women drew the world's attention to the problems of Ukrainians and the problems of pacification," said Ms. Alla.

Watch the video for more details.