“I want to contribute to Ukraine’s democracy and reconstruction”
Mariia Tyshchenko, a project researcher and an honorary doctorate at Malmö University, has developed the NGO “Poruch” in Ukraine. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, they have been focusing on emergency aid and humanitarian efforts. Mariia Tyshchenko fights for security and freedom. The goal is to create a society where all humans have equal rights.
In 2015, Mariia Tyshchenko came to Sweden to study the Sustainable Public Management programme at Malmö University through the Swedish Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP).
“Sweden opened up an international dimension that taught and brought new approaches, new ideas, new connections, and a new determination to expand and develop the democratic values and principles that we stood and stand for”, she says.
Since then, Mariia Tyshchenko has collaborated with teachers from Malmö University on issues related to social sustainability and social innovation in Ukraine.
“I see myself as an activist. Research serves as the basis for me to contribute to change”, she says.
Started by strengthening local communities
In 2016, Mariia Tyshchenko started the NGO “Poruch”, taking active actions in the fields of supporting local communities in Ukraine, strengthening civil society organizations, fostering integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and peace-building in post-conflict areas of Donbas.
“I care about people, and I care about people participating in local society; as such participation is the essence of an inclusive and developed democracy”, says Mariia Tyshchenko.
Projects are run in collaboration
Mariia and NGO “Poruch” have started about 119 projects, often focusing on women, young people, and people with disabilities in Ukraine. The projects were run in collaboration with local organisations and international partners. Mariia Tyshchenko has worked extensively in introducing equality and anti-discrimination plans at both local and national political levels in her home country.
“It has been very successful, but there are still those who are against it, often for religious reasons”, she says.
“Apathy and a feeling of ‘powerlessness’ were the main challenges in the early days of the NGO “Poruch”. Post-Soviet people were low on personal belief, low on understanding social responsibility, and the idea of participating in a former hierarchical structure as an equal citizen didn’t exist. We changed that by empowering people with democratic tools”, Mariia Tyshchenko continues.
Great need for aid and support of Ukraine
Because of the war, all projects in Ukraine are now at a standstill. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, there is a great need for military, humanitarian, and financial support to Ukraine. Support is also needed with civilian crisis management and Ukraine’s reconstruction.
“Right now we are focusing on emergency aid and humanitarian efforts. In collaboration with Malmö University, we helped to evacuate people with disabilities from Kharkiv to Sweden”, says Mariia Tyshchenko.
“I am also involved in finding educational placements abroad for Ukrainian students. You can’t study or concentrate on an exam when you hear bombs falling overhead. We must get help to simplify procedures so they can study in other countries”, she continues.
Russia’s 2022 invasion hit Mariia Tyshchenko personally. Her hometown was occupied. Horrific crimes were committed by the invaders. She found herself sleeping on a Metro floor with her son, while the sounds of explosions boomed above them. They had to move to the western part of Ukraine and after that, they fled to Sweden.
Research on geopolitical and human security aspects
In 2022, Mariia Tyshchenko was appointed an honorary doctorate at Malmö University for her work for human rights, gender equality, and peace. Mariia Tyshchenko’s research focuses on identifying obstacles to women’s social inclusion in decision-making during and after wartime and developing strategies to address these challenges in Ukraine and host countries for Ukrainian Temporary Protected Persons.
“The focus on geopolitical and human security aspects may lead to the development of a dedicated research program and new networks in security studies”, she says.
Read more about Mariia Tyshchenko
Mariia Tyshchenko has been nominated the Champion of Local Democracy by the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICDL). Find out more about the Champion of Local Democracy nomination: