OKSANA HORBUNOVA

Ukraine


“We started our peaceful protests with a deep understanding of the difficulties and challenges we could expect along the way. We didn’t have a special strategy. Everything was spontaneous. We came together to say “No” to the dictator. We became one family.”

Oksana Horbunova is a pioneering human rights activist in Ukraine. In the 1990s, she was working for the government when she discovered that an alarming number of women were disappearing. Oksana demanded that officials take notice and investigate. Her efforts ended up exposing human trafficking and she went on to create Ukraine’s first counter-trafficking NGO.

Today, Oksana leads her country’s counter-trafficking efforts with the International Organization for Migration. She opened a hotline that gives voice to silenced women and facilitates their rescue. In 2014, Oksana was on the frontlines when pro-democracy protests broke out in Kiev. She says she was proud to risk her life to demonstrate for human rights, justice and peace.