Maria from Rusia is the owner of a UK-based partnership, ImpactReady. She has been a NYLESA member since January 2020
Tell us about your work in addressing gender-based violence. What is your specific work and what makes you passionate about it?
I am an owner of a UK-based partnership, ImpactReady, that partners with a wide range of future-facing organizations, ranging from young entrepreneurs to ‘entrepreneurs’ in the UN system. A lot of the work we have done with the UN system is on gender-responsive evaluation, including for UNFPA, UN Women, and UNICEF. ImpactReady is currently supporting a joint evaluation of the joint programme on FGM, which is implemented by UNFPA and UNICEF. Much of my past work on gender has intersected with gender-based violence even when evaluations have focused on women’s economic empowerment – for example, the violence faced by Dalit women in India and single mother entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe. Sometimes I participate in evaluations directly, but often my role is to identify, convene and coach women-led evaluation teams. I have been lucky to meet and work with some incredible people this way. I feel very proud that we work so much in gender, and that we contribute to this important global effort at a time when this area is finally recognized. There is so much suffering experienced by women in the world, a lot of which is not even known to many people; even if as a company we can contribute a little bit to changing this situation, this would still be something important.
What would be your message for the 16 Days of Activism Against the Gender-based Violence?
As women, we need to look out for each other; we need to empower each other. We need to raise awareness of the violence that so many women experience; which sometimes seems to be thought of as so normal that even abused women themselves don’t recognize it. In Russian there is an old saying “if he beats me then he loves me”: as mothers and family members we need to bring up a new generation that thinks differently.
Being attached to UN affects our individual lives and the lives of our families. How does it affect your work and career?
Being a part of the UN family makes the work that my company does even more important to me: it is a daily reminder of all the injustices that happen in the world and hopefully it also helps our children grow up with more awareness. I get a huge sense of pride from being attached to the UN system; and still get excited about the work that the UN does – particularly on gender.