I often travel to other countries, and I have never heard comments like: “Why is your baby underdressed?” or: “Why did you divorce?” Not to mention the right of a woman to look the way she wants and to build relationships with the people she wants, irrespective of the expectations of her parents, the government, or the church.
I’m a feminist. Feminism is about a woman’s right to be the kind of person she feels. And comments from others are simply irrelevant: we have ethical standards, our rights and freedoms, and a law that outlines the framework for our behaviour. Well, the law is not always fair, but you still have to build on your rights and develop mutual respect.
Sometimes, it’s not your boss, colleague, friend or the government that does you down. You do yourself down. This is because of disparagement. When people does not allow themselves to study, grow as people or dream. Or do not want to assert their gender, ethnic or linguistic identities because of fear of condemnation.
But there is also a reverse process in which people act internally as human rights activists for themselves. When they overcomes their fears and learn to defend themselves, even in the home. The best tool for doing this is to know your rights and freedoms. This is something I’m currently focussing on.
I think the world would be a much better place if people perceived their rights and freedoms as something natural and inalienable, and treated others the same way, remembering their rights and freedoms in turn.
What I currently do can be divided into three categories: a person, a word and a right. A word and a right can both strengthen and weaken a person. Both a word and a right make it sound more clear. For me, these are also tools that I teach others, so that they do not fear but display widespread respect for the other – in all meanings of “the other”. But it is impossible to use the same words to convey this to everyone. Therefore, to reach children I write fairy tales, for teenagers I provide training, and with adults we have discussions through the media.
I use different words and different forms to promote the same message: “Freedom is inside you, your rights are inviolable.”
On Human Rights Day on 9 December 2019, UNDP launched the “Just Like You” photo exhibition in Kyiv. It tells the stories of 10 Ukrainians who took up the challenge of protecting human rights. “Just Like You” is a joint initiative of Real Stories Production and “Human Rights For Ukraine” project, which is being implemented by UNDP in Ukraine and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.