In the words of Oksana Nikiforova: “There is a strong will of rural women for change”
After being displaced when the armed conflict broke out in 2014, Nikiforova changed more than 10 houses before finding new home in Novoaidar, Luhansk oblast.
Oksana Nikiforova was displaced shortly after the armed conflict broke out in May 2014. Trying to provide her five-year-old daughter and newborn son with a safer place to live, she left Luhansk without any vision about her future. Nikonova and her family moved several cities in Ukraine, applied for refugee status in Poland and finally settled down in Novoaidar, small town in Luhansk region. Five years after fleeing her home, Nikiforova decided to start a new life and take matters into her own hands. She mobilized a women’s self-help group to change her community to meet the women’s needs.
“I was born in Abkhazia and witnessed the military conflict there. Back in 1980s running away from the war in Sukhumi, my mother took me and my brother and brought to Luhansk. Years after I suffered the same fate - took my two kids and ran from the conflict zone by myself. We were forced to leave Luhansk and in next few years we changed more than ten houses, before finally settled down in Novoaidar, small city in Luhansk region. We are urban dwellers but in Novoaidar we started to breed chickens to earn money for living. I have been always active and sociable but after all the events I shrunk into oneself and was depressed, I didn’t know anyone here to ask for help. One day I saw a call for the training on community mobilization organized by UN Women. After the training I was so inspired, I overcame inner barriers and started mobilizing my community. I have helped form three Self Help Groups in Novoaidar and other three in other neighboring cities. We have many plans and desire to improve the lives of our community. There is a strong will of local rural women for change. We are doing just the first step, but we keep going”, - says Nikiforova.
Oksana Nikiforova strengthened her knowledge of human rights and gender analysis and developed evidence-based advocacy skills during Community Mobilization for Empowerment trainings organized by UN Women as part of the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, which is being implemented by UN Women, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Her work contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies.