Model of U.S. civil society as opportunity for Ukraine

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IVLP participant from Ukraine was journalist and editor-in-chief of the Human Rights Information Centre website Iryna Vyrtosu

How the civil movement has been developed in the United States of America, what do the equal opportunities for everyone mean, do the citizens themselves influence the changes in political and social life? The U.S. experience was presented as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) during March 14 – April 1 in the USA.

The IVLP participants are representatives of various NGOs and international organizations from 18 countries, including Bulgaria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, the Philippines, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Australia and others.

Ukraine was represented by journalist and editor-in-chief of the Human Rights Information Centre website Iryna Vyrtosu.

In particular, the program offered a historical overview: from the onset of the movement of black people for their rights, struggle for the rights of women and the rights of immigrants till the present-day human rights challenges for the LGBT community. The highlights were the prohibition against segregation and discrimination on various grounds, the promotion of equal opportunities and protection of human rights.

Within the program, the participants visited Washington, Chicago, New Orleans, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle. The route was planned in order not only to see the diversity of the country, but also to assess how the laws work and human rights are protected in the states various in nature.

If I am asked to describe the knowledge I learned in three words, I would call diversity and combating discrimination, community development and powerful volunteer movement. This is a fantastic experience that Ukraine should interpret in its own realities. This is what I would like to tell about in my articles…” IVLP program participant Iryna Vyrtosu says.

The program also presented the best advocacy practices, the practical pieces of advice on how to unite to solve common problems, the role of the media in this process.

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The participants met with representatives of numerous non-governmental organizations, officials of the U.S. Department of State, the university professors, civil society activists, journalists and volunteers.

The editor-in-chief also notes that one more value of this program was the opportunity to meet the colleagues from different parts of the world – Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and Australia.

And, of course, to tell about the human rights situation in Ukraine, particularly in Donbas and Crimea. For me, that was one of the most emotional moments… The support from foreign colleagues is especially meaningful. They know about Ukraine… unfortunately. I say ‘unfortunately’ because I would like Ukraine to be discovered not only through the sad news,” the journalist says.

Photo credit: Iryna Vyrtosu, Human Rights Information Centre

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The International Visitor Leadership Program has been developed and implemented by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State