To celebrate with you March 8, the International Women's Day 2020, we interviewed three activists, who are dedicated their work to women and HIV. 

In the following, we took an interview with Anna Aryabinska, who works as strategy development coordinator at “Позитивные женщины“ (translated: Positive Women) in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Tell us a little about yourself: What's your name? Where do you live? Where do you work and in what field are you active in?

My name is Anna Aryabinska. I was born and raised in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, where I currently live and work with a community of women living with HIV. I am the strategy development coordinator at “Positive Women". It is a charitable organisation with the mission of creating opportunities for the development and empowerment of women, especially those who are vulnerable to HIV, by uniting women's initiatives, supporting leadership and changing public opinion.

My main activity is community mobilisation and development, promoting gender-oriented services for women living with HIV in Ukraine (social support and assistance in acknowledging and adapting to their HIV status); reducing barriers to access to sexual and reproductive health services; opposing institutional, gender, physical and sexual violence; protecting human rights; and addressing intersectional discrimination against women in our country. 

Why are you doing this? (What exactly do you do in terms of activism? What do you want to change and where do you see the gaps?)

I am an activist who promotes gender equality and feminist principles. For me, feminism is the fight for the rights of women to be seen as human beings: not as sexual objects, but as people with the same rights and agency as men. Gender equality presents the opportunity to be oneself, to be able to choose whether to pursue a career or dedicate oneself to family, to combine these two roles or choose still others, for men as well as for women and others who are challenging the binary picture of the world. I am opposed to violence of any sort: ultra-right, domestic, sexual, economic, psychological. Unfortunately, today there is a rise in conservatism and the "anti-gender" movement in Ukraine. Those issues are the most urgent to me now, and with my contribution and personal example I try to draw attention on the problems of violence and stigmatisation that women living with HIV regularly experience.

What positive changes have you made in your work? What has been the highlight of your activism?

“Positive Women" is actively participating in the organisation of the Women's March 2020, which will take place in Kyiv on March 8 and bring us together for a common goal: to increase the visibility and voice of women in society and to demand that our goverment ratify the Istanbul Convention.

The NGO “Positive Women" effected a legislative change in the summer of 2019, in the form of the opportunity for women living with HIV to use in vitro fertilization services (Order of the Ministry of Health № 933 from 24.04.2019). For me, this moment was a breakthrough in the organisation's advocacy activities. Such moments are so inspiring that you are ready to work again for years to improve the quality of life and the respect of our rights.

What positive changes in women's rights would you like to achieve by 2030? In your opinion, what should feminist activism look like in the future (in the world of online technology)?

Our organisation has ambitious plans for the future, aimed at supporting women's leadership, achieving changes in the perspective of HIV decriminalisation, validating the absence of HIV and syphilis transmission from mother to child, and expanding our scope of work. In Ukraine, women do not want to tolerate arrogance, neglect, sexism, sexual objectification and violence; they are tired of systemic inequality in the fields of decision-making, politics, fair wages, and family. Therefore, my vision of feminist activism in the future includes modern online technologies as methods for uniting the powerful tolerant global internet communities, with common goals of influencing public opinion. One of my goals is to eliminate stigma and discrimination.