Ukrainian women's voice in international advocacy: XII Congress of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations
On October 14-17, 2023, the XII Congress of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations "United by Love for Ukraine - for its Victory and Restoration!" was held in Poland (Przemysl) on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the WFUWO, which brought together representatives of women's organizations from around the world: Ukraine, Canada, the United States, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, Estonia, Romania, India, and the United Arab Emirates.
The leadership of the All-Ukrainian NGO Union of Ukrainian Women also took part in the Congress. The participants discussed the role of Ukrainian women in solving the urgent problems faced by Ukrainian women not only in Ukraine but also abroad. Emigration issues, wartime education, psychological health, volunteering - all of these and more are being raised by Ukrainian women in the international arena to protect Ukraine's interests and gain global support. Ukrainian women are already developing mechanisms and programs to protect human rights and restore and develop the country.
The XII Congress included the Annual Meeting, which was opened by the acting head of the WFUWO Yevhenia Petrova: "Being at the forefront of the Ukrainian women's movement, WFUWO chose the slogan of this year's Congress "WFUWO-75: United by love for Ukraine - for its victory and restoration!" These words actually reflected the areas of activity caused by the challenges faced by the organization."
The leadership of the Union of Ukrainian Women took part in the WFUWO Annual Meeting and heard the Annual Report. They discussed a number of important issues and adopted the WFUWO Statement on the occasion of the 75th anniversary. The Annual Meeting also heard reports from the heads and representatives of the member organizations. There was an active discussion among the heads and members of Ukrainian women's organizations, who lively discussed the WFUWO mission to include it in the organization's Statute during the XII Congress.
The opening ceremony of the XII WFUJO Congress was held in an atmosphere of greetings and warm words on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the WFUJO. Greetings came from all continents.
The Ukrainian Women's Union congratulated its dear visitors in the national traditions with a Ukrainian loaf with viburnum and an embroidered towel, symbolizing the invincibility of the Defenders of Ukraine and the entire nation. This gift was prepared for the WFUWO members by the allies Iryna Chernega, Vira Tchaikovska and Tetiana Pahuba.
"Thanks to the dedication and energy of the WFUWO sisters, the organization has become a global voice and a factor in the consolidation of Ukrainian women abroad, a defender of Ukraine's interests in the international arena. We wish the WFUWO prosperity, inspiration to the sisters in implementing all their plans for the benefit of the Ukrainian community in the world and prosperity of Ukraine," Oryslava Sydorchuk, head of the Union of Ukrainian Women, and the leadership of the WFUWO, Oreslava Khomyk, Vira Tchaikovska, Iryna Chernega, Valentyna Sichova and Alla Shvets congratulated the organization on its glorious anniversary.
During the ceremony, the leadership recognized the activities of the acting head of the WFUWO, Yevhenia Petrova, with the Union of Ukrainian Women's Certificate of Appreciation. Taking this opportunity, Ms. Orystlava also thanked the long-term partner Ukrainian Women's Union of America and presented the community with a Certificate of Appreciation in the person of its President Natalia Pavlenko.
Participants of the XII WFUWO Congress and the Ukrainian Women in the World Assembly were greeted by Stefan Romaniw, First Vice President of the Ukrainian World Congress, and presented Eugenia Petrova with a candlestick with the words: "Let this fire burn" made from a capsule used by Ukrainian soldiers in battle for our victory.
Iryna Kliuchkovska, Director of the IIRC, delivered a welcoming speech: "For its 75 years, the WFUWO has not only defended women's rights and freedoms, but together with its components it has helped Ukraine preserve its Ukrainian face. It educated, taught, and nurtured Ukrainians. It was our voice in the world when the system made us mute, it was strong when we were weak, it lent a hand when we could not get up from our knees, it helped us to squeeze out the slave and become free. And now it stands in solidarity with those who have been sheltered in dozens of countries around the world."
The XII Congress included panel discussions "WFUWO: 75 Years of Uniting Ukrainian Women and International Advocacy for Ukrainian Interests" and "Ukrainian Women in the World: Heroism, Volunteerism, Resilience".
The participants spoke about Ukrainian women in Ukraine and the world as an amazing phenomenon, about their scale of influence and responsibility, about their driving force in achieving the common good for Ukraine, and in promoting information about the assistance needed by Ukrainian citizens.
Natalia Poshyvaylo-Towler, Chair of the Victorian State Ukrainian Women's Union (Australia), Chair of the WFUWO Educational Reference Committee, and Vice President of the Ukrainian World Congress, noted: "Women's organizations in the diaspora are experiencing a new heyday of activity and innovation. Their efforts are aimed at accelerating the victory of Ukraine and the liberation of Ukrainian territories, saving the lives of military and civilians, improving the living conditions of women and building an equal and inclusive society. This new wave of post-war women's activism is a reliable source of inspiration for all women's organizations who seek to preserve Ukrainian identity, culture, education and to end Russian aggression and its threat to the world forever."
Roundtables were also held on the following topics: "Cooperation with partners as a key to joint success", "Decolonization in various spheres", "The newest wave of Ukrainian women migrants from Ukraine in the diaspora - challenges and ways to overcome them", "WFUWO Roadmap for the future".
Orystlava Sydorchuk, Head of the All-Ukrainian NGO Union of Ukrainian Women, took part in the roundtable discussion "Cooperation with Partners as a Key to Common Success" and outlined the priorities for joint activities of the organizations.
"The Ukrainian women's movement has long been involved in the defense of the national idea. Today, in times of war, women's organizations are addressing many of the most pressing issues: humanitarian, political, social and economic. The XII WFUWO Congress united Ukrainian women's organizations into a single international platform to make joint international statements, enlist international support for our country, and implement joint projects for the effective rebuilding of Ukraine. Despite various historical challenges, the global Ukrainian women's movement has gained a significant share in the political and public life of the world, and its influence covers continents, forming a significant international activity. An important task of the women's movement today is to preserve the continuity of generations: from experienced members to young leaders. After all, the multifaceted fruitful activities of all member organizations contribute to the actualization of the Ukrainian issue in the world, preserving the history and culture of Ukraine in the diaspora, helping the defenders of Ukraine in time of war and bringing the Victory closer," said Oryslava Sydorchuk.
A new chairman of the WFUWO was also elected. It was Yaroslava Hortyani.
"Leading the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations is a difficult and very responsible task, one might say a matter of national importance. It means honoring my predecessors, inspiring my successors, and being a reliable shoulder for the Ukrainian World Congress. It also means staying in touch with Ukrainian women from all continents, providing them with support, uniting them in their countries of residence and addressing the challenges of their homeland. They should be able to identify priority issues and convince others to support them. This is what the leaders of the WFUWO have been like so far, and we believe they will be like this in the future. So we thank Ms. Yevheniia Petrova for her wise management of the organization! And we sincerely congratulate the newly elected head of the WFUWO Yaroslava Hortyana! We wish you strength, inspiration and God's protection for the successful management of the ark!" - on behalf of the leadership and all allies, the head of the NGO Union of Ukrainian Women Oryslava Sydorchuk congratulated the newly elected WFUWO chairman.
As part of the Congress, meetings were held with sister allies from Australia, Estonia and the United States. The Ukrainian Women's Union, together with the Ukrainian Women's Union of America, also honored the memory of Ulyana Kravchenko, author of the novel Chrysanthemums, writer, contemporary of Ivan Franko, well-known public figure, teacher, and ally, who is buried in Przemysl.