Ukrainian women in search of role models
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. org.ua.
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)