Lecture “Why Women Protest: Findings from the Revolution of Dignity”

September 29, 2018

Dr. Olena Nikolayenko

Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at Fordham University

Women played a pivotal role in the Revolution of Dignity held in Ukraine from November 2013 to February 2014. This revolution, also dubbed the EuroMaidan, was initially triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych’s abrupt refusal to sign a free trade agreement with the European Union, but it rapidly encompassed a wider range of political demands and attracted a cross-cutting coalition of citizens in favor of social change. Over the span of three months, women disseminated protest-related information, developed an extensive network of volunteers, offered legal assistance for detained protesters, organized public lectures and documentary screenings inside the encampment, coordinated the provision of medical supplies, and distributed food. Based upon in-depth interviews with female revolutionaries, this study examines motivations for women’s engagement in high-risk activism. This research contributes to comparative democratization literature by underscoring women’s participation in a revolution.

Olena Nikolayenko (PhD Toronto) is Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at Fordham University. She is also an Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University. Her research interests include comparative democratization, social movements, political behavior, women’s activism, and youth, with a regional focus on Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. Her recent book, Youth Movements and Elections in Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press 2017) examined tactical interactions between nonviolent youth movements and incumbent governments in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Her article, “Why Women Protest: Insights from Ukraine’s EuroMaidan” (co-authored with Maria DeCasper), is forthcoming in the 2018 fall issue of Slavic Review.