From Silence to Voice: Behind the 2020 Women’s Protest Movement in Belarus

The world is in awe of the brave women of Belarus—not only the women opposition figures who risked their safety and freedom to challenge authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenka’s dubious claim to victory in the August 9 presidential elections, but also average Belarusian women who took to the streets to protest police brutality in the post-election crackdown, and fight for freedom and democracy in their country.

What sparked the women’s protest movement in Belarus? Can we call it a feminist movement? On October 22, the Prague Civil Society Centre and the Czech Women’s Lobby hosted a talk with Belarusian researcher, activist and sociologist Alena Aharelysheva, who discussed the peculiarities of the representation and participation of women in the 2020 presidential campaign, analysing the possible connections between the prominence this year of women politicians and the increasing grassroots female activism.

Alena Aharelysheva is a lecturer at the European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus. She holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology with a specialisation in Gender Studies, and participated herself in the women’s marches in Minsk. Alena graduated from the Belarusian State University and the European Humanities University. In 2011-2012 she held a research internship at Moholy-Nagy Művészeti Egyetem, Hungary. In 2016 she studied at Södertörn University, Sweden at the Department of Gender. She worked at the Academy of Sciences as a junior scientific collaborator and as a national gender consultant for UNICEF and coordinator of the DOTYK Queer Cinema Festival.

*Cover art by Nataliya Gusarova

–Emily Thompson

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