The five fellows and students join the School in the context of an EUI-wide initiative to provide funding opportunities to candidates affected by the war in Ukraine. Meet Narmina Strishenets, Mariana Barchuk-Halyk, Oleksii Lyska, Kateryna Halushka and Meriam Altaf below.
Incoming Policy Leader Fellow Narmina Strishenets is an experienced professional in international development, human rights, and advocacy. Since 2017, she has led advocacy and communications at the UN Women Ukraine.
Strishenets points to the courage shown by Ukrainians since the Russian invasion. “Women and men of all ages stepped up to defend the country in diverse roles – military, diplomatic, volunteering, providing medical and humanitarian aid, supporting needs of refugees, and more. Millions of women and children were forced to flee the country or being internally displaced in Ukraine. Many women stepped as active members of the armed forces, territorial defense forces, major coordinators of humanitarian aid, frontline responders to medical needs and education needs of the country. However, the voices of women in decision-making and conflict resolution are barely heard.”
Strishenets’ work at the STG will focus on women’s leadership. She says it is crucial to advance women’s rights and gender equality for the sustainable development of Ukrainian society after the war: “In the last decade, the EU gave visibility to a plethora of prominent women in decision-making who are real trailblazers for new generations of women in politics. And now, we see prominent female leaders of the world raise in support of Ukraine. The main focus of my work during the fellowship is to explore the evolution of women’s leadership in decision-making that helped dozens of women flourish as global leaders, relate this experience to the Eastern European and recent Ukraine context and identify how media can be instrumental in this change.”
The research of incoming fellow Mariana Barchuk-Halyk, a Slavic philologist, focuses on language policy and human security, with particular attention to the case of Ukraine. Language policy is a tool in political relations and conflicts. It has been central in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“We have seen that language is not just a pretext for aggressive propaganda, but also for a full-scale war….the Russian army is also fighting against Ukrainian language and culture,” Mariana Barchuk-Halyk explains.
Barchuk-Halyk’s research project at the STG will combine sociolinguistics, international relations and human security to focus on the language factor in the war between Russia and Ukraine. “Adequate language policy is a fundamental part of the development of civil society in Ukraine. After the victory of Ukraine, we will need to rebuild our country and create projects and institutions for the implementation of public safety in society. Adequate language policy in Ukraine is part of security, and I hope to be one of those people who will implement and implement such a policy in the public and academic space.”
New Policy Leader Fellow Oleksii Lyska has been dealing with local governance and community engagement for more than 20 years, as a public servant, as a researcher, and as a civic activist.
“My professional and research interests are focused on public participation, community empowerment, local governance, and public services. I believe that to implement democratic transformation in Ukraine, it is useful to learn foreign experience and apply appropriate tools, methods end techniques to intensify public participation in my country,” explains Oleksii Lyska who in recent years completed in international programmes both in several European countries and the United States.
The war has created unprecedented death and destruction in Ukraine. In these darkest of moments, Lyska looks at the rebuilding of his country. “I am convinced that the Policy Leaders Fellowship programme will help me to elaborate change-making projects to strengthen democratic institutions in Ukraine after the war.”
For Lyska, the issues of democracy, transparency and responsibility are even more relevant and necessary today. adds. “In pursue of its democratic endeavours, [Ukraine] has to mobilise resources, consolidate institutions, and improve governmental processes. That is why the opportunity provided by the EUI/STG is a really great chance to explore the current practices of public participation in governance and develop sustainable solutions for more inclusive and effective decision-making processes.”
Kateryna Halushka from Mariupol will enrol in the STG Master of Transnational Governance in September 2022. Halushka studied International Relations in Hungary and developed an interest in the European project. She wrote her thesis on the implementation of judicial reform in Ukraine.
“I would like to continue this research at the EUI. In the past few weeks, my home city was completely destroyed by the Russian army, and currently, every Ukrainian aims to defend our homes and freedom with what they can. I also want to help to rebuild my home.” When the war is over, Halushka would like to join international missions in Ukraine working on democratic reform and Europeanisation.
“Studying in the Master of Transnational Governance will help me get the necessary knowledge and practical skills to do that,” she says.
Incoming master’s student Meriam Altaf is a lawyer who specialises in immigration law. Altaf provides immigration advice to migrants from all over the world. Altaf’s wish is to use her knowledge for the common good: “I strongly believe that life-changing innovations can be achieved with our intellect without recourse to violence and war and that this is the only way to preserve and survive on this planet.”
Despite the horror of the war, Altaf sees opportunities for positive change at the horizon: “Despite the negative consequences of the war, it is also a great chance for policy leaders to work together and establish strong, sustainable reforms. It is a chance for change and the EUI/STG offers the right tools to drive this change. The Master in Transnational Governance programme is a great opportunity to work alongside policy champions in Europe to tackle the most pressing issues of current times.”
The academic community at the European University Institute mobilised in support of the people of Ukraine immediately after the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022. Among other initiatives, the EUI provides funding opportunities to candidates of any nationality who are directly affected by the war in Ukraine.