March is definitely our month! As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we think of the generations of women before us who advocated, educated, cultivated and cared for Ukraine and each other.

We are also reminded to carry on in our mission. Even in 2023, our struggle for women’s rights is far from over. Let this newsletter remind us of our organization’s job – not just for Ukrainians worldwide, but for ourselves as Ukrainian-American women. Let it inspire you to advocate, cultivate, educate, and care in your community.

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A delegation of Ukrainian women prisoners of the russian war against Ukraine arrived in the U.S. last month to participate in the 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (March 6-17, 2023). WFUWO (World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations) and our New Jersey Regional Council invited them to speak at the panel discussion that took place in Whippany on March 5.

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Informative, heavy, and eye-opening…” Those were some of the reflections of event participants. Oksana Bats, President of UNWLA Branch 143, Jersey City, NJ, described this event very eloquently:

“This was one of the most significant UNWLA events during my time at the organization. It’s not about just women – men, children, and people of different ages – it’s about the 60 thousand cases (of war crimes) currently registered since 2014 till now. The aggressors have remained in the Stone Age, using sexualized violence as a weapon and instrument to genocide the Ukrainian people.

We must be vocal, educated, and armed with the knowledge to tell the world what russia is. I’m so proud of everyone who speaks up and testifies for international organizations about these atrocities. It’s hard to relive this or even listen to it, but we MUST. We gathered for this panel discussion understanding its necessity.”

We are proud of UNWLA New Jersey Regional Council, President Oksana Konyk, and our partnership with WFUWO. Educating the community on russian violations of human rights in Ukraine is crucial if we want to bring the perpetrators to justice. Moreover, this event demonstrates to the entire community of Ukrainian women that the diaspora is here for them. We are not tired and will never get tired of helping them now and for a long time after!

The UN meeting was also a formal kick-off of the UNWLA Return Ukraine’s Children campaign. Chaired by a Soyuzianka and advocate Marta Fedoriw, it aims to raise awareness of another aspect of genocide russia is committing against Ukraine: abduction and relocation of Ukrainian children.

Congresswoman Susan Wild introduced into Congress a resolution to “condemn Russia for the kidnapping of children from Ukraine.” In her statement, read by Martha Fedoriw at the UN stage, she emphasizes that “the Russian objective is clear: To wipe out the young generations of Ukrainians by attempting to eradicate their sense of national and cultural identity.”

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recently changed the wall texts for three artists previously labeled Russian. The painters – Ivan Aivazovsky, Arkhyp Kuindzhi, and Ilya Repin, all active in the late 19th century – are now classified as Ukrainian artists. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam recently reclassified Kazimir Malevich, the founding father of abstract art, as Ukrainian. Why is this so important right now?

The long shadow of Czarist and Soviet Russia has to end, and Ukraine needs to be recognized for its significant influence on abstract and modern art.

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Photo: Ukrainian Museum, Author: @don.eim

This shift in correcting identity and nationality in art history was the topic of a recent roundtable discussion at the Ukrainian MuseumThe panel included Fulbright scholar Lisa Korneichuk from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Alexander Motyl, professor at Rutgers University; and Yuri Shevchuk, senior lecturer at Columbia University. The moderator was Peter Doroshenko, director of the Ukrainian Museum. The panel discussed decolonizing Ukrainian art, culture, and language and what needs to be done to ensure that museums and organizations worldwide make the kind of significant corrections that the Met and the Stedelijk have made.

UNWLA also plans to join the Ukrainian Museum and other partners in keeping pressure on museums and organizations to appropriately credit Ukrainian culture. To get involved, please contact [email protected]

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Our members-at-large have launched a Facebook page! It’s a great resource for staying in touch with our members who don’t belong to a traditional branch.