For Prospections “Standing With Ukraine. Standing With the Oppressed,” feminist, social researcher, and peace activist Nina Potarska has kindly given us permission to republish her 2016 text “Maidan and After: State of the Ukrainian Left,” originally published in n+1 magazine 24, New Age (Winter 2016), which gives a socioeconomic context to the Maidan uprising and describes the author’s own involvement in the protests from a feminist position, demanding direct democracy and an end to corruption and (neo)oligarchic rule; and subsequently, her involvement in helping women impacted by the war in eastern Ukraine. The republication of this text is followed by a postscript by Potarska describing her recent years of peacebuilding activist and advocacy work as Ukraine’s national coordinator for the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom, Kyiv. Yet today—one month after the full-scale Russian invasion and its fully raging war on Ukraine—the author is faced with an acute sense of grief regarding how to carry on.
feminist, social researcher, and peace activist
Since 2016, Nina Potarska has been Ukraine’s national coordinator for the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom. The objectives of the program are to improve the organization of, to facilitate the participation of women in, and to ensure that gender perspectives and responses are made mainstream within national and international structures. The focus is on identifying human rights violations based on gender analysis, researching government responses to these issues, and finding ways to approach transitional justice and developing strategies for their implementation. Part of Potarska’s activities are monitoring the needs and observing of the rights of women living near the contact line in relation to gender-based violence as well as conflict-related violence; enacting gender-inclusive mediation of conflicts; and preparing reports on the observance of women’s rights in the United Nations system.
Potarska is also director of the Center for Social and Labor Studies, Kyiv, since 2013, and has been studying topics related to the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2015, collecting narratives and conducting research on both sides of the contact line. For more than 10 years, Potarska has been an activist of the feminist movement, co-coordinator of the Women’s March in Ukraine, an expert on WPS (Women Peace and Security), and has developed and conducted seminars on women’s leadership, women’s activism, civil campaign planning, and basic tools for protecting women’s rights.