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Inspiring Thursday: Daria Serenko

Prominent Russian Feminist activist is currently under fire from the extremist groups attacking her online because of Daria’s social media publication supporting migrants. The xenophobic alliance is sending Daria numerous death threats, and the community has also leaked Serenko’s personal information, including her address and phone number. Daria mentions that this is not the first time she has to fight back against hateful groups in Russia; the inspiring story of an activist who never backs down. 

Daria Serenko is not only famous among hate groups that are targetting different activists who operate in Russia; Daria is also well-known for a variety of her achievements within the feminist community. She is a writer of three books, an organiser of numerous creative protests, and a project manager for several feminist initiatives that have been discussed worldwide.

“Advancement of gender equality, eradication of gender-based violence, and most importantly the improvement of understanding of the concept of “gender”, specifically widening people’s perception of the gender roles that were assigned to us at birth…as well as the fight against the activists’ burnout.” – Daria Serenko

Daria started her career at the age of 16 as a creative writer, focusing on poetry. Hence, Serenko’s very first book that was published in 2017 called “Silence in the library” is a poetry collection, which literary critics believe signifies a decisive first step to a new conversation about “self”. Daria’s subsequent literary work would focus on her personal experiences as an activist, as her second book centres on Serenko’s artistic protest called “Quiet Picket”. In the promotional social media publication Daria describes the action: 

“#quietpicket is an art activist movement initiated by me in 2016. Other activists and I would go out to the city streets every day with posters in our hands and wait for strangers to talk to us about what’s on the poster. We have had over 3000 conversations on important social and political topics with passers-by and metro passengers in 46 cities and several countries. We were guided by the principles of open and respectful dialogue.” 

Daria with her creative protest prompted critical thinking around different social problems, including women’s rights and the issue of domestic violence in Russia. One of the posters stated, “Every fourth family is experiencing some form of violence; every year, 14,000 women die in Russia at the hands of their husbands”. The following statement is meant to provoke peaceful discussion and raise awareness, which is documented in Daria’s book.

The same year, Daria Serenko and two other Russian feminist activists were invited to speak at the 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women to discuss different campaigns aimed at combatting gender inequality in Russia, however, the trip was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In November 2020, Daria Serenko, together with Sophia Sno, Daria Zhirnova and Roksana Kiseleva, opened the project called “Femdacha”, a place of rest for LGBT+ and feminist activists, where they can relax and recover in the cases of burnout. The project was especially significant, as it drew worldwide attention. Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Washington Post journalist, wrote an article about the initiative stating that “The well-tended brick house in Moscow’s outskirts may be among the most exclusive addresses for those exhausted from fighting President Vladimir Putin’s government.”

In 2021, Serenko was one of the organizers of the women’s protest “Chain of Solidarity and Love”, which took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg in solidarity with Yulia Navalnaya and other women arrested during the protests in support of Alexei Navalny earlier this year. Daria has also recently published her latest book called “Girls and institutions” where she discusses her experience of working in public institutions as a woman.

While challenging, Daria’s path of activism has been extremely important for contemporary Russian society and has gained considerable recognition from literary critics, UN Women, prestigious newspapers, and most importantly from people of the Russian Federation that are ready to embrace the change.

Written by WAVE Intern Polina Lynova

Our last Inspiring Thursday: Patricia Espinosa

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