Why Women Protest: Insights from Ukraine’s EuroMaidan

First published in 2018

Olena Nikolayenko and Maria DeCasper

Slavic Review 77, no. 3 (Fall 2018): 726–51

This article examines why Ukrainian women participated in the 2013–14 anti-government protests, widely known as the EuroMaidan. Based upon in-depth interviews with female protesters, the study uncovers a wide range of motivations for women’s engagement in the revolution, including dissatisfaction with the government, solidarity with protesters, motherhood, civic duty, and professional service. Political discontent was the most cited reason for protesting. Solidarity with protesters was another major catalyst for political engagement. In addition, women who were mothers invoked the notion of mothering to provide a rationale for activism. The study contributes to the growing literature on women’s participation in contentious politics in non-democracies.


Olena Nikolayenko is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Fordham 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 youth movements and incumbent governments in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, and Ukraine.

Maria DeCasper received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and French Language and Literature from Fordham University in 2017. She was an intern in the Public Diplomacy Section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia in the summer of 2017. She currently works as a PR consultant and volunteers for the Kyiv-based nonprofit organization New Generation of Women Leaders in Ukraine.