International Women’s Day: Viktoriia Grivina

An interview with Viktoriia Grivina, PhD Candidate in School of Modern Languages & Centre for Energy Ethics, about her experiences and influences as part of International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March 2022.

What was your childhood ambition?

I’ve always wanted to become a writer. And a singer a little bit, though the latter ended when our home microphone died when I was around six, and to the universal relief of my family, I think.

What inspired you to get involved in your area of research?

Writers love to read. And I love to read and write about cities, this complex organism of communication. Now that my dear Kharkiv is being butchered by Russian bombs and missiles, that precious Ukrainian modernist architecture crumbles, I start to see it even better, the way Kharkovites are determined and united, working together, doing impossible things – fixing heating and electricity under constant gunfire, how they help.

And so I’m not crying over the buildings, as I know that Kharkiv is more alive today than it’s ever been. More humane. My parents woke up from the sound of working garbage trucks this morning, as municipal workers want to keep our city clean even now during shellings. My PhD in urban transformations of Kharkiv might look very different now.

Is there a particular woman who has positively impacted your career?

My great grandmother. She was an expert in survival. She saved her children from Stalin’s repression after her husband was killed and declared the enemy of the nation in 1937. She was sharp-tongued, and caught every opportunity she saw. She was the kind of person who saw an apple tree along the road, picked the apples, made my mom – a teenager – help sell them at the nearby market, and split the money 50/50.

I like to think about this fantastic vital energy when I’m faced with a challenge, or get a rejection letter from somewhere.

Whose voice would you like to amplify this International Women’s Day?

I would like to amplify the voice of Ukrainian women. Ukrainian women in war.

From my great grandmother, who saved and raised our entire family, to women today, arguing on the streets with enemy soldiers, making Molotov cocktails, providing medical aid, cooking food for hospitals, and people stranded in the bomb shelters. The level of their courage and optimism is fascinating.

Back to International Women’s Day in St Andrews.