Iryna Zolotarevych HERstory image

HERstory in the Ukraine

Q&A with Businesswoman Iryna Zolotarevych’s

Update – June 2024 – We first published this story in the spring of 2022. The war in Ukraine is still very much a problem. Unfortunately, our friend Iryna didn’t have a great update when we reached out. Cities continue to be under seige, and the relentless bombing and fighting is taking it’s toll. We have reached out to Iryna, for an update. Meanwhile, if you would like to make a difference for the women in Ukraine – please see below for a list of worthy, and trustable organizations.

Here are some organizations that support women in Ukraine during the war:

  • UN WomenProvides humanitarian assistance, legal aid, psychological support, and referrals to social services for women and girls in Ukraine and those fleeing to neighboring countries. UN Women also works with the government and civil society to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. You can donate to UN Women to help support women and girls in Ukraine.
  • Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF)Funds local civil society organizations and women activists in Ukraine who provide humanitarian assistance and protection to those affected by the conflict.
  • Women for Women InternationalProvides comprehensive care to women survivors of the invasion through their Conflict Response Fund, in partnership with local organizations in Ukraine and Poland.
  • Woman and War Charity FoundationProvides support for women and children affected by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

HERstory in the Ukraine features Ukrainian businesswoman and communications expert Iryna Zolotarevych’s take on reality in the war-torn country. Iryna is a business expert, social activist and director of the World Communication Forum Davos in Kyiv, Ukraine. She is the author and co-author of over 100 communications lectures and trainings, she is also a senior teacher in Institute of International Relations. She is a certified coach through ICF (International Coaching Federation), and has been in business for over 25 years.

HERstory in the Ukraine is Is Editor in Chief and Publisher Monyka Berrocosa’s account of when she recently interviewed Ukrainian businesswoman and asked about her take on the reality of what people are calling the conflict in the Ukraine…

This is their exchange, edited for brevity.

What is your view about the Ukraine conflict with Russia:

As a woman, do you feel that women are being targeted, or treated differently than men, in the conflict? 

HERStory on with Today's BusinesswomanIn Ukraine, there is a full-scale war waged by Russia. Ukraine is under martial law, which means that all men of military age, according to the law, must stay in the Ukraine to take up arms if necessary. When war comes to the country, the roles of women and men are distributed in a new way, in a completely different way than in peacetime. 

The task of women is to leave the dangerous areas as soon as possible and ensure the safety of themselves and their children, to let the military do their job: to protect our rights and our territory. Women live in the homes of those who sheltered them, find temporary work and wait for the end of the war to return to their homes. If, of course, they still have houses, many do not.

Do you feel that businesswomen in the Ukraine have access to resources and support during the conflict to continue doing business, or are they basically left to fend on their own?

It’s not about the women, it’s about the war. 

Many infrastructure facilities have been destroyed, many cities are under complete blockade – this means that the Russian army keeps the surviving residents in a tight ring without food, water, or communications. In addition, most of the logistics companies are engaged in the supply of military ammunition and medicines, which means that importing the necessary raw materials into the country is limited.

Of course, doing business in such conditions is very complicated. 

At the same time, the government makes very flexible supportive decisions for businesses: tax holidays, financial assistance to entrepreneurs, preferential terms for many industries. I cannot say that the features of doing business in wartime are gendered.

What is your biggest concern about the war, personally and professionally?

The word “conflict” worries me the most. 

This is not a conflict, this is a full-scale war of Russia in Ukraine and against Ukraine. In this war, tens of thousands of people were killed in a month, cities were destroyed (can you imagine, there was nothing left of the cities at all, as if they never existed), and I am most worried when the word “conflict” is applied to this situation.

What would you like other businesswomen around the world to know about the state of the Ukraine, today, presently?

I would like to know the truth. Of course, I understand very well that somewhere in Europe, the USA, Canada or Asia, this whole war looks like something very far away. In addition, given the powerful Russian propaganda, information in the media is often confusing.

But what Putin’s army is doing in Ukraine now is terrorism and a complete violation of the Geneva Convention. In practice, this means that the rights of civilians are violated, many children and civilians are killed, houses and entire cities are destroyed. 

On a global scale, everyone should understand the following: a humanitarian catastrophe of this magnitude affects almost the entire world. Ukraine is one of the key producers of agricultural products, and if the war does not stop in the coming days, the sowing campaign will not begin. 

And the world will be left without grain, sunflower oil and a large number of other products on which the economy of a number of countries depends. In addition, Russian politicians are already quite unambiguously articulate Putin’s ambitions to invade other countries, I have spoken to this in a previous post on LinkedIn (click here to read

How has the pandemic affected your business?

I am a coach and founder of an international coaching school here in the Ukraine. Due to the pandemic, my business had to be completely rebuilt to a virtual format to be able to continue working 2 years ago, when the lockdown began. 

For me and my team, the approach to doing business during the war has remained almost the same: we can still do our job from anywhere in the world. For us, the changes have affected the content of our work: we now devote a lot of time to volunteering to support those who suffered from the war.

It may seem a superfluous questions, particularly in such difficult times, but I believe food is one commonality we all share, with that in mind, what is your favorite food?

I prefer very simple food: vegetables, fish, and cereals. My favorite dish is a large plate of salad made with very fresh vegetables..

What is your favorite book, and why? 

Orwell 1984 – novel examines the role of truth and facts within politics and the ways in which they are manipulated. The story takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda.

Who is your favorite podcaster, and why? 

Oprah Winfrey – she took risks and was willing to venture into new territory. 

Where would you love to travel, but haven’t been? 

I was born in Kazakhstan. This is perhaps why I love Asia so much. In the near future I plan to travel to China and Saudi Arabia. 

Another dream is to see red maples in Canada and I look forward to Monyka giving me some tips and suggestions about how to make the best of my visit there.

What is the best way people can help the situation in Ukraine if they wish to donate, or lend support?

I thank everyone who is ready to support Ukraine! 

For us now the main priority is to end the war. Therefore, the main assistance that we expect from partners is the provision of weapons and military medicines. The second need is assistance to refugees from Ukraine with temporary housing.

And another important priority is the opportunity for Ukrainians to earn money. Most Ukrainians do not feel comfortable receiving social subsidies as refugees, they want to earn money. If you want to help, you will do a great important thing by using the services of the Ukrainians, doing a joint business or offering jobs.

To learn more about Irina visit her profile on LinkedIn

HERstory in the Ukraine is made possible by The Giving Spirits Foundation. To learn more about the foundation click here. If you enjoyed this article, check out more by clicking here.

1 thought on “HERstory in the Ukraine”

  1. Its great to hear from someone who has feet on the ground in the Ukraine ( I realize you may have taken refuge somewhere outside the country given the situation) with all the fake news we are subjected to every day. Its difficult to know what is really happening. I’m sure its hard to focus on your coaching practice with the violence surrounding you but I admire your ability to focus and persevere. I found your favorite book pick so interesting given how the issues portrayed in 1984 are playing out before our eyes. I tried reading it during the pandemic and I’ll admit, it scared me. Prayers to you and everyone in the Ukraine. Stay Strong.

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