This Women’s History Month, we’re sharing the stories of remarkable women who are part of the global movement to end the use of orphanages for good by strengthening and supporting families.
Today we hear from Halyna Postoliuk our Ukraine Director, who shares her views on the importance of International Women’s Day in Ukraine, what she feels most proud of and her advice to women wanting to inspire change.
What year did you join Hope and Homes for Children?
I’ve known about Hope and Homes for Children since 1998 when a representative from the charity came to visit Ukraine. During that time I was working in the Kyiv regional authority as a Head of Service on Children’s Affairs and, later, in the Ministry of Family and Youth.
In 2000, I started my professional career at Hope and Homes for Children and, in 2001, I officially registered the representative office of Hope and Homes for Children in Ukraine.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you, as a leader of an organisation working to ensure every child has a safe family home in Ukraine?
I was born in a soviet time when International Women’s Day was always perceived as a day when men give women flowers, cook breakfast and do housework.
Not long ago, Ukraine realised that this was actually perpetuating the discrimination of women in society – creating just one day a year when men pay attention to women and help them in the household.
Today, the day is an acknowledgement of a women’s role, voice, and achievements in all spheres, especially when it’s about children’s well-being and their right to grow up with the love and safety of a family.
What is your biggest achievement or proudest moment as a leader since you joined HHC? How did this make you feel?
Thousands of children in Ukraine are growing up in families, whether their biological families or new families, rather than in orphanages. I feel proud that we have played a critical role either in the prevention of family separation, or searching for a new family.
I’m also proud that we have created a number of innovative childcare and family services which became a key part of state policies, and developed the evidence to influence childcare reform in Ukraine. I feel proud of the team and it gives me energy for the future.
Why is it important that women’s voices are included in decision-making around childcare reform in Ukraine?
It’s important that women’s voices are included in decision-making in all the reforms, including child care and protection.
Historically, the majority of those working in the social care sector are women. It’s a fact that childcare reform is often left behind in the political agenda due to an under-representation of women in power.
Women need to unite and fight to prove what is best for children and what changes, and actions are needed.
How do community services and access to childcare help break the glass ceiling for women in Ukraine?
Services in the community are vital for mums who have to earn money and care for their children, especially those who are single mums, have young children or have children with disabilities.
External community support is crucial to preventing family separation. Community support can build parents’ confidence, help deal with daily difficulties and offer external support.
What message or words of encouragement do you have for aspiring women and girls wanting to make positive change in the world?
My advice for women and girls who want to make or influence the change – be brave, patient and ready for hard work. Have big ambitions accompanied by subject knowledge and experience. Have strong beliefs and allies.
About Halyna Polstoliuk
Haylna is our Ukraine Country Director. She recently shared her reflections on leading her team through war, one-year-on from when Russian forces invaded Ukraine.