Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on Thursday 24th February, 2022, disturbing images of bombing, destruction, and military action have been emerging from ground zero. As geopolitical tensions rise, countries are scrambling to bring their citizens home. Fearing for their safety, Ukrainians are seeking refuge in basements and abandoned train stations. For Ukraine’s first family, there are sticking together and with the Ukrainian people.
Despite the fact that he appears to be in imminent danger, as a prime target for the aggressors, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has refused to leave his homeland. In his constant addresses to the nation, Zelensky assures his people that he will stay and fight the war. He is not leaving, and neither is Olena Zelenska. She has been a beacon of hope and support to her husband and nation.
Who is Olena Zelenska? Olena Zelenska is the wife of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. They were married in 2003, have two children together: daughter Oleksandra born on 15 July 2004 and their son, Kyrylo, born on 21 January 2013.
However, she is more than the First Lady of Ukraine; she is one of Ukraine’s most powerful women. From her position of power, Zelenska has advocated extensively for social causes such as gender equality and engaged in diplomatic work, demonstrating effective steps taken to expand her country’s reach in the global arena.
She studied architecture before deciding to pursue a career in writing. She is credited with writing content for shows and films as one of the co-founders of Studio Kvartal 95, Ukraine’s most prominent entertainment production company.
As First Lady, her work towards nutrition reform at the school-level is specially marked. According to the Ukrainian Women’s Congress, she also played a key role in the development of the National Strategy, which includes areas such as gender safety and cultural diplomacy. Ukraine’s membership in the Biarritz Partnership, a G7 plan for gender equality, was also initiated by Zelenska.
Since the invasion, Zelenska has used social media to communicate with the people of her country and to calm their fears. She wrote in a rousing Instagram post on Friday, “My dear people! Ukrainians! I’m looking at you all today. Everyone I see on TV, on the streets, on the Internet. I see your posts and videos. And you know what? You are amazing! I am proud to live with you in the same country! They say a lot of people are a crowd. This is not about us. Because many Ukrainians are not a crowd. This is an army! And today I will not have panic and tears. I will be calm and confident. My children are watching me. I will stand by them. And next to my husband. And together with you. I love you guys! I love Ukraine!”
In her second post on war, she wrote alongside a photo of a baby, “This child was born in the Kyiv bomb shelter. This was to take place in completely different conditions, under peaceful skies. It is what children should see… We are the army, the army is us. And children born in bomb shelters will live in a peaceful country that has defended itself.”