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Svetlana-The Reluctant Poster Girl For Change

Posted: October 16, 2020

Svetlana’s inner tumult is relatable to all women. I pray that she finds courage and does not disappoint supporters who have faith in her.

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great. Some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”

This Shakespeare quote. I find very apt for this unassuming young mother of two, who by her own admission would prefer frying cutlets in her kitchen than addressing political rallies. Dismissed by her seasoned political detractor as ‘a little girl who does not know what she is doing’, she is slowly stirring up a storm in a teacup.

So what is happening in Belarus?

Belarus, an obscure landlocked country in Europe, a breakaway faction of erstwhile USSR , is making it to the international news page section of my  newspaper thanks to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, an ex-teacher turned novice politician who has been garnering strong support from feminists and countries alike.

The country’s president Alexander Lukashenko has been ruling the country for over 26 years with not so covert help from his friend in need Vladimir Putin. He has now been sworn in again in a clandestine ceremony notwithstanding serious allegations of rigged elections. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s husband, a youtube activist and pro democratic citizen clearly gauged the country’s turmoil, its growing dissatisfaction and fomenting dissidence against the ruling President.

The poster girl for change!

However his candidature was rejected and he was arrested. With no other serious contenders Svetlana stepped in and became the poster girl for change in a country which in Lukashenko’s words “does not want a Woman President.”

Svetlana’s inner tumult is relatable to all women. She had to send her children to safety, face threats, galvanise support and be strong in the face of a ruthless regime. Her contradictory statements also reveal the bedlam in her heart and mind. She confesses she will step aside after her mission is fulfilled; her mission being dethroning dictatorship, freeing political prisoners and holding free fair elections. I hope that this diminutive, well meaning, sincere woman who is now in exile will find the courage to quell her fears and demons.

I pray that she finds courage from the stories in history of other women leaders and does not disappoint supporters who have reposed faith in her. There are many young girls worldwide who are encouraged by her rightful rebelliousness and are waiting for her  to put to shame Lukashenko’s misogynistic statement that Belarusian society has not yet matured enough to vote for a woman.

Picture Credits: Still of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya from a EuroNews video

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