World Link FLEX ’16 alumna Viktoriia Shvaher from Ukraine, is dedicated to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal #5, gender equality. She contributes her exchange year in Highlands Ranch, Colorado for teaching her how to find a passion. That passion ever since has continued to give her direction and motivation in life.
After returning from her exchange year, Viktoriia took a gap year. She spent her year in Kyiv working for the international youth organization AIESEC and volunteering at a local crisis center for victims of domestic violence. Working closely with these victims of gender-based violence, further ignited her passion for equality. This position led her to become more active in the feminist community. She started writing articles about sexism in Ukrainian politics and participating in the local women’s marches.
In 2017, Viktoriia started at LCC International University in Lithuania. Being selected as the FLEX University Representative further developed the project planning skills learned during her exchange year. She continued her training in project development as a participant in the FLEX-Ability workshop in Warsaw, Poland, in 2019.
The same year, she was selected for the Erasmus+ semester study abroad program. She spent one semester at Caucasus University in Tbilisi, Georgia. There, she implemented her FLEX-Ability project dedicated to women empowerment, “Girls of Caucasus”.
Women Empowerment Projects
The project brought together 15 female participants from Caucasus University for inspirational and connection-building exercises. The first task was having each participant prepare one story from their life where they felt powerful. These stories were put together in a handbook and given to the participants as a memento of the workshop. Once the stories were written, participants discussed their experiences and watch TEDTalks on women empowerment.
“It showed them that even though we all have different backgrounds and are coming from different countries, there is always something that unites us in a very powerful community.”
The workshop concluded by reflecting on what they had learned about themselves over a homecooked meal.
In March of 2020, Viktoriia organized a Women’s Day Brunch, funded by another FLEX-Ability grant. Held on her university campus, the event focused on discussion of current women’s rights issues with an inspiring Q&A session with a local female entrepreneur.
What’s She’s Doing Now
Viktoriia is currently in her last semester at LCC University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Development. She is the co-leader of the women’s empowerment group on campus, Lean-In. They have had monthly meetings to discuss women’s rights issues and projects they can organize to help solve them.
She is also a Youth Ambassador of Ukraine to the WAVE (Women Against Violence Europe) StepUp! campaign and an assistant to a researcher in the field of domestic violence for the non-profit, Social Innovation Fund.
After she graduates, she is hoping to continue her education by getting a master’s degree in Gender Studies then finding a profession in the field of women’s rights in Ukraine or working for UNWomen.
“A year with World Link helped me realize my passion for social work with gender-based violence and gave me confidence that I can make a change. I got keen on volunteering during a year with World Link and continued to help with different social projects back at home. I met incredible people in our World Link cluster who I can still rely on to discuss project ideas or even co-organized some events with, together.”
Witness the passion Viktoriia has for women’s rights in her LCC International University TEDx event, “The New ‘F’ Word”.
We are proud of Viktoriia and the work she had done in the field of gender equality. Her passion to better the lives of women will continue to motivate her and inspire those around her to work towards achieving equal rights for women around the world.