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Iryna works as head of Climate Change Development National Ecological Center of Ukraine, an NGO which focuses on climate change related issues. She has worked there for almost ten years. She is a mother, and a full time working woman. She shared her thoughts on what it means to be a working woman, and following her passion.

Choosing a career

“I always wanted to focus on environmental issues, and I also realised that without having a proper education it is difficult to work in the field I chose, as well as reach a higher level in my profession,” she said.

Iryna was previously studying computer science, and she decided to change her sector.

“I set a goal  for myself that I will study abroad on how environmental issues should be dealt with  in the European Union. I succeeded, and got a scholarship to a Swedish university in Lund to study environmental management and policy. After coming back to Ukraine, I focused on finding myself a job in the environmental sector.”

Working in an NGO

Iryna feels that working in an NGO on environment allows her the freedom of expression, and stating out loud what needs to be done.

“Other entities are tied to what they have to say, but as NGOs we can speak openly. Proposing policies and criticising is openly done,” she adds.

She lives in Ukraine, and her country has been a focus of the global attention due to many reasons in the recent past, among which lies the political crisis it lives with Russia.

“The conflict with Russia, it’s horrible,” she added.

People die and a war is happening. We are living a crisis. But on the other hand, people are also united, and stronger as a nation. We are a nation trying to change the country, and not individualistic,” she continued.

A working woman in Ukraine

Iryna believes that being a woman does not hinder achieving career goals in Ukraine. She explained that many strong women hold important positions in different work positions in her country.

But she does feel that being a mother does impact one’s career.

“I think women do not get promoted because there is the possibility that they will ask for maternity leave. Promoting a woman creates issues if she is not going to be in the office, and is on maternal leave,” she explained.

A wife, a mother

When asked about how she feels about being a mother, and being a working mother she says that it is a wonderful experience.

“It is wonderful. It’s like a life has become whole, and complete. You feel that you can be a good mother, invest time, love and care for the family and at the same time do what you want to do in the professional life,” she told.

She is a committed mother who enjoys her time with her child. She added that she really enjoyed the time she spent with her child for one year away from work.

“I restarted working when she was one. I was very lucky to have an organisation which provides me flexibility,” she added.

Iryna believes that her work travel has helped her husband form a close relationship with their daughter.

“When I started travelling, and he started taking care of Anna alone their relationship has become closer, and very much stronger. He used to have certain views about the role of the woman, and the role of the woman in the family. But these experiences have made him very understanding towards work, women, and family life. Now he is very supportive of my professional life,” explained Iryna.