EU funds project aimed at overcoming gender stereotypes in military

Going by her life principle: “Do everything you can with what you have and where you are”, Sergeant Khrystyna Boichuk, a cadet at the humanities faculty, has for the sixth year of her study at the National Guard Academy been conveying her stance, multiplied by modern and creative approach and experience in military service. This way, step by step, the cadet proves once again that it’s quite possible to implement changes if you believe in yourself and receive support from like-minded persons. And recently, Khrystyna brought another good news, winning a grant for implementation of her original mentorship project, #ТІЩОЗМОГЛИ (#THOSEWHOCOULD).

“When you do something for the first time, you face problems, but that only motivates you even more for the feeling that you can do everything”: Sergeant Khrystyna Boichuk

During 2019-2020, #ТІЩОЗМОГЛИ project has already been tested on the base of the National Guard Academy. Back then, more than 50 young men and women studying at Kharkiv’s educational institutions with enhanced physical-military preparation took part in the project. The lyceum students had the opportunity to develop practical skills necessary for a future serviceman or servicewoman at four courses: public speaking, leadership, gender and legal. Khrystyna says that the project demanded a lot of physical and moral efforts. On the other hand, support from representatives of the Department of Education for the Kharkiv Oblast, senior officials of the National Guard Academy and cadets helped implement what was planned. At the same time, Khrystyna was unable to engage professional coaches, veterans, mentors or volunteers from other Ukrainian cities. The way out was found unexpectedly, and thanks to her inborn persistence Khrystyna’s dreams became a reality.

“The Center for Gender Culture held a contest of mini grants under the project titled “Center for Gender Culture as a Platform of Enhancing the Rights and Opportunities for Women and the Youth”. This project is funded by the EU, and has the purpose of disseminating the ideas of gender equality and gender culture in the Kharkiv Oblast and Eastern Ukraine,” the cadet said. “We were provided over 100 thousand hryvnias under this project. According to the terms of grant, we had until December 2020 to fully implement our project for students of Kharkiv’s middle schools with enhanced physical-military preparation.”

Khrystyna Boichuk says that it wasn’t easy to complete the application for a grant, because it was her first experience of this kind. The most difficult part for the young woman was to compile and systemize the budget. The Center for Gender Culture provided certain help via videoconferences and personal consultations. Since there were a lot of interesting projects in the Kharkiv Oblast aimed to achieve gender equality, it took almost a month to review Khrystyna’s project, but according to the sergeant, all worries were worth it.

“When you do something for the first time, you face problems, but that only motivates you even more for the feeling that you can do everything,” Khrystyna emphasized. “The key purpose of this project is to give children, who in the future will choose the profession of the defender of Ukraine, the understanding of what to expect in the service. Providing information about equality of servicemen and servicewomen is also necessary. It is extremely important that the availability of funding allows to engage professional coaches and mentors from all over Ukraine, because now we are able to pay for their accommodation and meals. I am sure that their experience won’t leave any participant indifferent and will become an example to follow. In addition, in the future we plan to implement #ТІЩОЗМОГЛИ project not just in Kharkiv but across the entire Ukraine.”

“My future projects will be aimed to overcome stereotypes”

Among the majority of events in which she participated, the young woman picks out “Select by Heart”, a project from the Center for Gender Culture. In that project, Khrystyna was a coach, and during one hour she was telling schoolchildren from Kharkiv and the Kharkiv Oblast about women in the military service, particularly those who serve in Eastern Ukraine even today, and also, about women killed in action in the Joint Forces Operation area.

In 2019, Khrystyna also became a participant of a unique leadership program, Ambassadors of Sustainable Development Goals. Today, she is an ambassador for gender equality.

And the event that recently happened in Khrystyna Boichuk’s life let her know once again that she’s on the right track. On the Ukraine Independence Day, the cadet received the honor to take part in the March of Defenders in Kyiv. Khrystyna headed the column of the Women’s Veteran Movement featuring women who saw action in the Joint Forces Operation area. Moreover, the sergeant became a member of the Women’s Veteran Movement.

Getting back to her project and the efforts she had to take, Khrystyna Boichuk is convinced that it was a substantial positive moment in her personal biography.

“Writing a grant is a very meticulous work, which gave me the ability to systemize a huge volume of information, and also, the abilities I presently have. I know that it will be very hard without a team and without enthusiasts, and therefore, I count on their support,” Khrystyna said. “This project needs to be developed further, because it also places an emphasis on “an equal to an equal” stance. It could be classes with cadets and lyceum students, as well as with officers who saw real combat and cadets. Most importantly, the barriers in communication are erased, and therefore, some share their experience and others perceive it.”

Ambitious Khrystyna Boichuk’s plans already contain the idea of implementing a social project concerning young families of National Guard officers. This project, the young woman says, is about the relationship, leisure and building a happy, lasting family.

“My future projects will be aimed to overcome stereotypes. We have to be able to show that men and women are different but have equal access to opportunities, and therefore, they can equally perform their duties. The most important thing is to overcome the barrier of a stereotype whereby someone must only cook food in the kitchen and someone must defend Ukraine.”

Source: Glavnoe