A resounding call to action was made after this last #EConvo, our weekly Monday night international conversation presented by our Google+ Community. This is our second webcast featuring the women of the Ukraine. An EPIPHANY Conversation: Crisis in Crimea, A Return to Maidan provided a small window into a global event that will drastically change at least part of the world as we know it. Just one month prior in our weekly Google Hangout series, we met Christina Kotlar, Olha Onyshko and Adile (last name held back for safety) in order to learn firsthand how women were handling the annexation of their home country—a Ukrainian future in the hands of Russia. Like the rest of us who read and watch the news I knew we were witnessing history being made. Past world events of this nature have usually resulted in grave human consequences. So it has not been a surprise that in a matter of weeks, the Ukraine has experienced political unrest, a swift election, military aggression and continuous protests.
What cannot be denied is the humanitarian crisis that is brewing.
When we first met these women, some wayward observers on our first Google Hangout ridiculed me and members of the panel for being alarmists and just plain “stupid.” This past Monday night for our follow up webcast, we were joined by young Olena live from Kiev who could not fully reveal her identity because she was heading into the heart of the conflict zone just a few hours later at dawn. As her words were translated to me before our webcast, by coming on with us she would have a record and documentation that she was here—alive and providing support to her countrymen as a medical volunteer the night before she was to head into the unknown. The patriotism (translation: bravery) expressed by these women, such as Adile’s refusal to apply for a Russian passport even if her livelihood depends on it, shows the resistance Putin faces when confronting a woman with Crimean Tartar roots. Adile and Olena are women under 30. They have told us jobs are scarce, unbiased medical treatment is not available for the wounded and the threat of kidnapping surrounds them at every moment. Here in the States, Olha and Christina stressed the need for safehouses, bulletproof vests and helmets, and financial support.
For the next few weeks it may be a bit difficult to communicate with our new friends in the battle zone. So we decided to turn on the #WomenofMaidanWatch hashtag. Across all social media, #WomenofMaidanWatch will be a point of contact. We hope to stay in communication as well as grow public support for the women of Maidan. They should not feel as if they are protecting their families and communities alone.
After getting to know these women I believe them when they say the women will be the ones to peacefully end the unrest. But as demonstrated by Olena who put on her uniform and displayed her badge for us when we disconnected our evening’s public broadcast, the #WomenofMaidanWatch will never give up the fight.