Fearless Ukraine activist Olena Shevchenko named Woman of the Year

Ukraine LGBT and women's activist Olena Shevchenko
Image: courtesy of Sydney WorldPride

Olena Shevchenko, a Ukrainian activist fighting for LGBT and women’s rights during the Russian invasion, has been named Woman of the Year by TIME Magazine.

Every year, the publication selects a dozen female leaders who’ve made huge contributions in the fight for human rights.

In Kyiv, Olena co-founded the non-profit Insight in 2017 to support women and queer communities. She’s one of the most recognizable advocates in Ukraine fighting for the country’s most vulnerable people.

After the Russian invasion, Olena and her colleagues began fundraising. She estimates that in 2022, they collected more than $400,000 from various donors and campaigns.

That includes supplying Ukrainians with everything from first-aid kits to hormones for transgender people.

But her work has also made her a target. Last year, as she unloaded supplies on the ground, she was assaulted by a man with pepper spray who screamed, “Pervert, get out of our city!”

Olena Shevchenko told TIME she wishes to show Ukraine’s queer communities are active on multiple frontlines during the war.

She said her fight against gender stereotypes also continues. Women have also taken on a variety of roles in war efforts outside the home, including volunteer work and military service, Olena said.

“You need to remind people that women are not people who just need to give birth to new soldiers and take care of our heroes,” she told TIME.

Olena said she dedicates the honour “to all the invisible women of Ukraine who are doing the impossible, bringing our victory closer.”

Olena Shevchenko addressed WorldPride Human Rights conference

Last week, Olena Shevchenko was one of the speakers who addressed Sydney WorldPride’s landmark Human Rights Conference.

At the time, Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown congratulated the Ukrainian advocate on the honour for her “extraordinary work”.

“Not just helping LGBTIQ+ people [in Ukraine] but also women, the elderly and disabled people,” Ms Brown said.

“Her work and advocacy remind us that around the world LGBTIQ+ people face varying degrees of discrimination and difficulty. Whether it be a war zone in Ukraine, a prison cell or online hate.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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