Ukrainian women in search of role mod­els

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY MARIYA KAPINOS [email protected]

Some of the more than 50 young women sit­ting qui­etly at round­tables ap­pear to be try­ing to avoid the gaze of Ukrainian well-known fe­male politi­cians, tele­vi­sion an­chors, busi­ness­women and sci­en­tists sit­ting next to them.

How­ever, ex­cite­ment still sparkles in their eyes: soon each of them will get to choose a men­tor from among these suc­cess­ful women.

The men­tor­ing pro­gram is part of the I Can Do It ini­tia­tive, which was launched by the Elena Pinchuk An­tiAIDs Foun­da­tion, in part­ner­ship with Co­caCola Ukraine, on Nov. 8 at Taras Shevchenko Na­tional Mu­seum in Kyiv.

The pur­pose of the project is to link am­bi­tious young women with more ex­pe­ri­enced women who are al­ready lead­ers in var­i­ous fields.

“There are so many suc­cess­ful women will­ing to do some­thing good for oth­ers,” says Elena Pinchuk, the founder of Elena Pinchuk An­tiAIDs Foun­da­tion. “We have united them in one project, so they can help younger women choose their ca­reer path and set new goals.”

Pas­try cook and TV host Liza Glin­skaya, 1996 Olympic all-around floor ex­er­cise cham­pion Liliya Pod­ko­payeva, and Hori­zon Capital CEO Lenna Koszarny are among 30 men­tors who have al­ready agreed to join the pro­gram, and the or­ga­niz­ers say they con­tinue invit­ing oth­ers, so the num­ber will grow.

Young women look­ing for guid­ance through­out Ukraine should ap­ply by fill­ing in a form on the project’s web­site, at­tach a short pre­sen­ta­tional video, and wait for a call.

When ap­proved, they will get a chance to meet a fe­male men­tor who will spend some time with them, give ca­reer ad­vice, show them their workspace, and, hope­fully, in­spire them.

The first men­tor-seek­ers were in­vited to the I Can Do It ini­tia­tive’s launch on Nov. 8. Mar­garita Bahno, 19, was one of them — she found out about the project from a friend, filled in the ap­pli­ca­tion form and a cou­ple of weeks later re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion to the event.

“This event is huge,” smiles Bahno. “Among all the men­tors I per­son­ally would like to meet the 25-yearold Deputy Min­is­ter for Euro­pean In­te­gra­tion Anas­tasiya Deeva. She is so young and suc­cess­ful; this woman is such an in­spi­ra­tion to me.”

Choos­ing a men­tor

The of­fi­cial pre­sen­ta­tion of the project is just the first step, says the com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor at Elena Pinchuk An­tiAIDs Foun­da­tion, Pavel Pimi­nov.

The sec­ond step will be for each of the ap­pli­cants to choose the men­tor they like the most: They will get the chance to in­vite the men­tor to their univer­si­ties or schools to give lec-

tures and share their wis­dom.

The third step is for each woman to choose their per­sonal men­tor. The men­tor will spend some time with the woman and ad­vise her on ca­reer choices.

“We think it will be a one-day meet­ing,” says Pimi­nov. “Yet ev­ery­thing de­pends on the men­tor. We hope that at the end of the day two women will form some kind of bond and will stay in touch even af­ter the project.”

Alyona Gud­kova is a founder of monthly Ku­razh Bazar flea mar­ket in Kyiv. She is also one of the I Can Do It men­tors.

Peo­ple come to Gud­kova’s fairs to buy clothes, eat tasty foods, and spend time to­gether with their fam­i­lies. Gud­kova’s sched­ule is a roller-coaster of con­stant meet­ings and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, yet she has found time for the project.

“I want to share with other peo­ple those lessons I my­self learned the hard way by mak­ing mis­takes, and in­vest­ing lots of money, ef­fort and time,” ex­plains Gud­kova.

She doesn’t know how much time she will be able to in­vest in the project be­cause “ev­ery­thing de­pends on whether there is a chem­istry with the per­son un­der my care.”

The project has just started, and or­ga­niz­ers plan to pro­mote it in the me­dia and to in­volve more women in it. In fact, there is no age limit on par­tic­i­pants in the project, and they can come from all over the coun­try, says Pinchuk.

“A woman can visit our web­site, watch videos about our men­tors and choose the fe­male she prefers the most,” says Pinchuk. “I be­lieve women should be kinder to each other, sup­port each other — this is what this project is about.”

The ap­pli­ca­tion dead­line is Jan. 31. To get more de­tails, visit ican.

Women in search of guid­ance talk to fu­ture men­tors dur­ing the open­ing night of I Can Do It project in Taras Shevchenko Na­tional Mu­seum in Kyiv on Nov. 8. (Oleg Pe­tra­siuk)

Elena Pinchuk

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