In 1998, there were only three of us, - co-founder of "La Strada" Kateryna Levchenko about the 22 years of the organization

In 1998, there were only three of us, - co-founder of "La Strada" Kateryna Levchenko about the 22 years of the organization

Today, "La Strada" consists of 35 like-minded people who work to ensure gender equality, prevent all types of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, combat human trafficking, and ensure children's rights. The organization promotes the implementation of international human rights standards in all spheres of society. In addition, there is a national coaching network and a national network of mediators.

An article about the three co-founders of La Strada in a Dutch newspaper, 1997

"La Strada" began as an organization that was engaged in the prevention of trafficking in women. This topic was a hot topic in the 90s.

"There was a war in the Balkans, the situation in Turkey, the opening of borders. This topic has also actively attracted the attention of the international community. However, already in the early 2000s, we saw that trafficking in women transformed into trafficking in women and men", - says Kateryna Levchenko.

Today, according to her, it is worth talking about human trafficking, because new forms of exploitation have spread. For example, labor exploitation.

"Very quickly we noticed that one of the driving factors of human trafficking is domestic violence," - adds Kateryna Levchenko.

Already in 2004, "La Strala" opened a second hotline, which was dedicated directly to the issue of combating domestic violence. Before that, there was already a line that dealt with the issue of combating human trafficking. After that, the issue of protecting children's rights arose. In addition, the organization began to deal with gender equality and the protection of women's rights in a broad sense. For example, in 2005, representatives of "La Strada" participated in the discussion and advocacy of the law "On ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men".

When the war and occupation began, problems arose related to forced migrants and the provision of humanitarian assistance to them. Today, "La Strada" is actively working to provide assistance in the situation of restrictions related to the introduction of quarantine due to COVID-19.

"When we started, there were three of us, and today it is a powerful organization. In particular, now the team provides round-the-clock operation of the National Hotline, which is a lot of consultants." Levchenko emphasizes.

The national "hotline" for the prevention of domestic violence, human trafficking and gender discrimination is available by phone: 0 800 500 335 or 116 123 (short number from mobile).  

"La Strada" also managed to establish good partnership relations with Facebook. IN interview Povazi, head of public policy for Ukraine, Kateryna Kruk, noted that La Strada is Facebook's security partner, and that the organization is doing incredible work, so Facebook is considering options on how to support its activities.

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Olga Shved, Kateryna Levchenko, Oksana Gorbunova

Kateryna Levchenko admits that the organization has always wanted to work with young people, students, which is why those who come for practice stay for a long time.

"If you look at the existing team, many of them started as students. These are, for example, today's president of "La Strada" Olga Kalashnyk and vice-president Katya Cherepaha". - says the co-founder of "La Strada".

On the question of what women's human rights organizations currently lack, Kateryna Levchenko points to the understanding of the importance of joint actions and actions, as well as the need for communication with society, so that it does not think that women's organizations are "somewhat wrong" or "strange people".

"Of course, they say it differently, some say we are "blue stockings", some say we "collect grants", and some thank us for our work. In general, very important communication, such as the adoption of the Istanbul Convention, requires clearer communication to society. It is necessary to translate important political issues into a language that is understandable even to those who are not interested in political issues," - believes Kateryna Levchenko.  

According to the government commissioner for gender policy, it is necessary to inform people more carefully that gender inequality contributes to the wage gap, which affects families' living standards.

  • Three tips to myself 22 years ago that would help newly created women's organizations now.

First of all, according to Kateryna Levchenko, you need to have three clearly formulated ideas: why did you come together, what is the mission of your organization and what is the vision of your organization? It is important to have a circle of like-minded people, as well as people whom you trust.

Second, cooperation with various state entities is very important. That is, it is either the ministry, or the state administration or the village council, depending on where the organization works. So that there is no opposition, but a search for synergy, which will help to implement the plan.

And the last thing is constant self-development and constant learning.