In addition to being a mother of two wonderful children, I am a practitioner of systemic and organizational development. Since 2019, I have been working with the Ukraine team of forumZFD. Previously, I have worked in African countries that have gone through war and armed conflicts in the past. I have supported institutions, organizations and teams in dealing with reforms, internal restructuring and growth.
forumZFD has been working in Ukraine for several years now. One of our first projects, which we still support today, is the “Culture of Neighborhood” in the yards of Odesa. I have helped the team of our partner organization “Zatsikavleni” to scale their idea. Another project that we support is the parents’ network “Kidfriendly”. This is a new partnership which we started to build after the beginning of the Russian invasion.
My goal is to help teams clarify their goals and intentions, and to improve their strategies to bring more alignment with their purpose. I see how this helps organizations to grow. We grow together. This inspires me!
In cooperation with our partners, we strive to create an atmosphere in society in which you can be free and different – and at the same time accepted. This is not always possible. But our partners are doing their best to foster such conditions in different communities. We help them to finetune their ideas, put them into practice, and scale them up by adding some expertise. The focus of our work is not on dialogue between countries, but on the internal dialogue within a society, in small groups and in communities.
The most striking achievement of the past year for me was the start of new partnerships with two important initiatives: the “Kidfriendly” community of Odesa parents, and the project “Dream and Do: Healing with Art” by Andrii Utenkov. We were able to spot these initiatives and provide them with support.
This year, I hope that the war will end, and that my team and I can return to Odesa. It is very important to work with our partners on the ground, to feel their energy – not through a screen but in person. In such live meetings, it is much easier for something new and creative to emerge.
These are difficult times for everyone, especially for women, especially for women with children. Women need not only physical but also emotional safety. Women need the space and opportunity to show their feminine softness, sensuality, kindness and tenderness. Now they are forced to suppress it in themselves. In times of war, there are things that are relevant and things which are put on hold. However, if you do not have the opportunity to express what is alive in you for too long, it will not only affect the woman but also the environment and the children.
Women have a lot of influence, and we want that influence to be positive, not destructive. I personally experienced the war in Armenia. I was six years old then. It affected my life. There was little room for expressing emotions and feelings. Parents were busy. They needed to take care of economic issues, feed their families. My mother could not show the tender side of her nature, so I quickly learned to take responsibility and rely on myself. There was no room left to be a child.
Will the war affect education? Definitely, yes. Education is not only the knowledge given in school, but it is also the interaction of children with each other and the interaction within the family. Many questions arise in this regard. Can online schooling substitute schools in a qualitative manner? Do children get enough experience of quality interaction within the family system and in their communities? Home-schooling can be an alternative when the children are open and curious to learn and parents can create the suitable environment and guidance. Is this possible in conditions of low parental resources?
In my view, the role of women in war is to bring gentleness to the world. War affects people in different ways. And there are different ways to win a war. The military way is just one of them. The military can bring the war to the end, but it will continue in the souls of people. It is the mission of women to end the confrontation in people's hearts. They can create conditions to be able to be in touch with the own intimate feelings and emotions, be vulnerable, create places where people can relax and feel whole. All people need this: women, men and especially children.
If we release our inner tensions, this does not mean that we lose or that we give up. There will simply be more femininity in the world, and the energy of society will change. People will perceive the world, life, other people and the environment differently. The very essence of interaction will change for the better. Individuals will feel more connected to themselves, their body, mind, soul, and also feel more connected to the people around them.
Perhaps femininity will not stop wars and geopolitical conflicts, but it will stop the internal war that takes place inside us. If there is more light and peace in the souls of people, there will be less cruelty when dealing with conflicts and more harmony in relationships.
This text was first published in the form of an interview on the platform “Kidfriendly”.