Every year, the BBC compiles a list of women from all over the world who inspire and influence the world in 2022. “We create documentaries, features, and interviews about their lives—stories that put women at the center.”
Olena Zelenska, First Lady
After russia’s full-scale invasion, she used her status to show the suffering of the Ukrainian people, becoming the first wife of a foreign president to address the US Congress. She now focuses on mental health support for children and families traumatized by war.
“Women have taken on even more responsibilities than in peacetime… A woman who has experienced this (war) will never take a step back. And I am sure that our inner confidence will grow,” Olena Zelenska.
Yana Zinkevich, political scientist and frontline medical volunteer
Yana personally took 200 wounded soldiers from the battlefield to a safe place. Her team, the volunteer organization Hospitaliers, continues to provide first aid to wounded soldiers and civilians, conducts medical training, and has carried out about 6,000 evacuations. 27-year-old Zinkevych is also one of the youngest members of the Ukrainian parliament and heads the subcommittee on military medicine.
Maryna Viazovska, mathematician
A Ukrainian mathematician who this year became only the second woman in history to win the prestigious Fields Medal, often called the Nobel Prize in mathematics and awarded every four years. Maryna Viazovska received an award for her work on a 400-year-old riddle and solved the problem of how to pack the spheres in the eight-dimensional space most efficiently.
Iryna Kondratova, pediatrician
As the head of the Kharkiv Regional Perinatal Center, Dr. Kondratova was granted access by David Beckham to his Instagram page in March to post information about the problems they face. Since 2014, her team has provided medical and psychological assistance to more than 3,000 women from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
“Destroyed are our homes, roads, power stations, hospitals—and lives. But our dreams, our hopes, and our faith are alive and stronger than ever,” Iryna Kondratova.
Oleksandra Matviichuk, human rights lawyer
For 15 years, Oleksandra Matviichuk has headed the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), which became one of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureates for its work documenting russia’s war crimes after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Bravery has no gender,” Oleksandra Matviichuk.
Yulia Paievska, paramedic
A well-known Ukrainian civilian paramedic and the founder of the Taira Angels volunteer medical unit, which saved hundreds of wounded civilians and military personnel. Yulia Paievska, better known as Taira, was captured by russian forces in March while she was helping evacuate civilians from Mariupol.
Yulia Sachuk, activist for the rights of people with disabilities
Ukrainian human rights defender Yulia Sachuk heads the public organization of women with disabilities Fight For Right. She was among those who responded urgently to russia’s invasion of Ukraine, working around the clock with international organizations to coordinate evacuation plans to save the lives of thousands of Ukrainians with disabilities.
Kristina Berdynskykh, journalist
During the war in Ukraine, the well-known journalist Kristina Berdynskykh traveled around the country and made reports from the regions that russia shelled. Some of her material focused on everyday life in a war-torn city.