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Addressing the Women@PACE group, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya calls “to unite efforts in fighting for democracy, human rights, and the rights of women”

Women@PACE exchanges views on women’s political participation with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarus democratic opposition
©Council of Europe

The ‘Women@PACE’ group today held an exchange of views with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarus democratic opposition, on women’s political participation.

Addressing the participants, she shared her journey and shed light on the challenges faced by women in her country's political landscape. “I call myself an accidental politician. It has never been my goal to become a political leader. However, I became one – out of love. It was love for my husband Siarhei that made me take his place in the presidential campaign in 2020,” she stated.

“When I ran - she added - Lukashenka immediately dismissed me as a ‘housewife’ and stated that ‘our constitution is not made for a woman’ and he was wrong. He lost elections but refused to go”.

In her remarks, Tsikhanouskaya also highlighted the role women play in politics, particularly in times of war. "More women in politics will mean more empathy, humanity, and wisdom in our decisions," she affirmed. These qualities, she argued, are crucial for shaping a better world: “These are precisely the things that we need in the world, now and ever,” she pointed out.

Reflecting on the events that took place in Belarus three years ago, Tsikhanouskaya acknowledged that progress takes time. "It's not a sprint but a marathon. But I learned one thing: we, as women, are good at long distances. Women have patience and endurance that lead us forward to freedom” she said. “Fighting for democracy, human rights, and the rights of women is our common duty. It’s high time to unite our efforts and continue this fight together,” Ms Tsikhanouskaya concluded.