In comparison to the West, International Women’s Day has a different connotation in many post-Soviet countries. In Belarus, Instead of making a point of women’s rights on March 8, praising femininity lies in focus in Belarus; the majority of Belarusian females receive flowers. The tradition begins to change gradually, and we see more and more attention to Belarusian women who reached success and global recognition.
Svetlana Alexievich, Belarus’ Nobel laureate in Literature, is rather one of the most influential women in the country. She is a writer and the head of the Belarusian Pen Centre. Alexievich is recognisable in the whole world; representatives of different countries are being lost in her Chernobyl Prayer, Second-Hand Time and War’s Unwomanly Face. Her works are translated into many languages. At the same time, due to her open criticism of the Soviet authorities and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, she has never been invited to high-profile events held by the state. In addition, public officials ignored the fact of her receiving a Nobel Prize in 2015.
Crystal Swan directed by Darya Zhuk became the first Belarusian film to be nominated for the Oscar. After getting an economics degree from Harvard, she turned her career over and became a movie director. Darya was not happy with a females’ image on the screen and wanted to show a different side of a young woman in Soviet times.
“I did not believe that a woman can be a good director,” highlighted Darya.
Another US-based successful Belarusian woman is a model Zhenya Katava. Born in the town of Barysau, she immigrated to the US when she was 16 years old – almost right after she started working in the Belarusian model agency of Syarhei Nagorny. She takes part in fashion shows with Dolce&Gabbana, Armani, Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta, Zuhair Murad.
Darya is a former Belarusian biathlete who is currently coaching the national female team of China. Among other awards, Darya won four gold medals at the Olympic games and two golden awards at the World Championship. Domrachava is married to the Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen. In Belarus, Darya is rewarded with the medal of Hero of Belarus by the Belarusian president. A few years ago, Domrachava confirmed she was a KGB agent, although she denies performing any political tasks.
Viktoryшa was the first Belarusian tennis player (among men and women) who has ever won the Grand Slam. By the age of 30, she managed to become one of the best 50 female tennis players in the world. After giving birth to her son Leo and going through professional trauma recovery, she has resumed her training activity; currently, she is aiming for new victories. Viktoryia lives in the US since her young age. In 2012-2013, the Belarusian had to miss the start of the Australian Open due to being involved in a child custody lawsuit.
Chychykava was the first Belarusian woman to win the Miss Wheelchair World in 2017. She continues to serve as an example and encourage people with disabilities to advocate for their rights.
“This is not a beauty contest, as we usually think. This contest is an opportunity to break down stereotypes about girls in wheelchairs. The participants are able to believe in themselves; the contest gives them the strength to develop and understand that they are in no way inferior to girls who are not in wheelchairs, says Alyaksandra.
Alesia Rudnik, belsat.eu