Updated: Jun 29
Heartbreaking stories emerge from Ukraine almost daily. Amidst all the strife, there are also stories about immense resilience and strength, especially among women who are keeping communities and connections strong.
One such woman is Inna Sandiuk, who was a mentee graduate at this year’s Global Thinkers Forum. The co-founder of Nutshell Education, a startup company which provides online English courses to entrepreneurs and IT specialists in Ukraine, Inna has also served as a Ukrainian youth delegate at the UN General Assembly in 2015. In 2019, she was the main organizer of TEDxVinnytsia 2019, an independently organized TED Talk event.
I was honoured to host Inna as our opening speaker at the 4th annual Athena40 conference that was held on International Women’s Day, on March 8. An articulate speaker, Inna spoke courageously and candidly about recently becoming a new mum, just mere months after losing her mum, and then described how drastically things changed for her and her country when the war broke out.
Inna attended the conference virtually from Ukraine, and described in detail how the war has affected her life. She lives in the house her father built in her home city, which is located nearly 300 kilometres outside of the capital, Kyiv. She talked about the destruction of an airport located on the outskirts of her home city, and said that while her area has become increasingly dangerous to live in, Inna has no plans to leave because she doesn’t wish to be a refugee or another casualty of a senseless war.
Eight and a half weeks ago, Inna gave birth to her first child, a joy that she says has been constantly overshadowed by the current conflict. As a new mother in a war-torn country, Inna is well aware that war violence does not discriminate against age. 38 children have died during this war, the youngest was just 18 months old. Inna spoke about her life experiences, and the opportunities she has had to study and work internationally, but she always chose to come back home, and ultimately started her company in Ukraine, where she says she wanted to work and be with the many talented, hard-working and well educated people of her country.
Inna has named her son Svyatoslava, a union of two Ukrainian words - Svyato, which means celebration and Slava, which means glory. She says her son is the future of her family and her nation, and his birth is a moment of truth for Ukrainians to reassess their values and their sense of belonging. During this year’s conference, Inna also spoke about how the Ukrainian people have strong values that they have always stood up for, and more than ever, they are motivated to help and do whatever is in their capacity to do so.
Since 2015, Ukraine has celebrated Victory Day over Nazism in World War II on May 9. Inna hopes that she will be able to celebrate a new Victory Day with her fellow Ukrainians even before May. She can’t wait to celebrate a free Ukraine.
Inna not only empowers other women through her work with Nutshell, but she is also helping raise the voices of the Ukrainian people and the spirit of her community during a very challenging time.
It was a daunting task for the young mum, who stood tall, strong and proud at this year’s Athena40, her words exemplary of the resilience women so often face during catastrophes.
May peace prevail.
You can learn more about Inna's involvement in the Global Thinkers Forum here.