HerstoryOfChange – The Story of Kateryna Shyska from Dnipro, Ukraine

Written by Julie Ostapjukova

As an ecofeminist network, we want to provide space for the stories of inspiring champions in the fields of gender equality and the fight against climate change and environmental pollution. We believe that a sustainable future and environment need feminist solutions reflecting the lives of people on the ground. That is why we work on transformative gender equality and women’s human rights in interconnection with sustainable development and climate justice.

One of these champions is Kateryna Shyshka.

Located in the city of Dnipro, Ukraine, Kateryna, one of the leading experts in our joint TEAD programme, and the CEO of an energy service company “EnergoEngineering,” was faced with a daunting proximity of conflict and witnessed numerous instances of war crimes around her, but chose to stay and assist in the defence of her country.

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent escalation of the war in the east of the country have irreversibly transformed the lives of each and every Ukrainian, both at home and abroad. Inevitably, most developmental projects have been postponed, including the TEAD programme, which was supposed to help increase Ukraine’s capacities in technical design, energy audits, and the implementation of energy efficiency programmes.

Like most Ukrainians, Kateryna set her daily responsibilities aside and interrupted her work, which, up until the invasion, predominantly consisted of performing energy audits and issuing energy efficiency certifications, and was, thus, essential for sustainable development in the area. Instead, in order to support those joining the fight, she began to utilize her connections to gather a range of essentials. The list first included military clothing and simple equipment such as backpacks, thermostats, and binoculars, but soon began to center around tactical first aid kits and other humanitarian aid that local organizations could no longer cover.

“Sadly but understandably, big international organizations with heavy funding cannot use their finances to directly support the military, citing fears of dual purpose.”

Along with her continuous assistance in raising money and gathering equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, by maintaining a steady presence on social media platforms, Kateryna has been spreading awareness about the various atrocities taking place in Ukraine, ranging from deliberately targeting nuclear plants and civilian infrastructure to countless instances of gender-based violence. In this way, not only is Kateryna’s present case a clear example of the perks of female leadership, which further creates space for women’s empowerment, but her initiatives for the foreseeable future, including her role in the TEAD programme, revolve around regeneration and livelihood improvement as well.

Taking into account the scale of destroyed infrastructure and the consequent pollution of land, water, and air, Kateryna realizes that to rebuild and recover parts of the country in a sustainable way will require immense amounts of time, effort, and finance. Luckily, she has had a lot of experience with the process of modernization prior to the war, having worked on a number of different projects with international organizations like USAID, GIZ, EIB, or the World Bank Group.

One of the few silver linings of the war is the opportunity for the country to start fresh, as claimed by Kateryna. Having said that, while the course of the war is virtually impossible to predict, she asserts that the war’s aftermath, particularly the restoration of the country’s infrastructure and overall standing, has to be done in a gender- and climate-just way.

“I am more than confident that the series of reconstruction of buildings won’t meet just any level, but the highest level of energy efficiency and sustainability.”

If you want to support Kateryna in collecting and providing first aid kits, please click the donate button onto our website and specify your donation as “Ukraine First Aid Kits”