From Business to Politics,
from Politics to Social Assistance
Public organization “Culture of Democracy”
“This winter, the hearts of Ukrainians were united, but due to constant rocket attacks, they were in darkness and cold. This summer, the hearts of Ukrainians are still united in the struggle, but they are drowned by the big water of the Kherson region”, - Lilia Leonidova, Councilor of the Odessa City Council
From business to politics, from politics to social assistance. Lilia Leonidova was born in the Crimea, and at the age of 16 she moved to Odessa. She graduated from the State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture and, in fact, immediately began to try herself in restaurant consulting and project management. She launched about a dozen well-known restaurants in Odessa, and already in 2009, Lilia created a well-known network of her own cafes “Basilik”, “Zlachnoye”, “Zakroma”.
In 2014, Ukrainians were inspired by the Maidan, and then Lilia had a desire to change the whole country. She did not dream of becoming a politician, she had a successful business and a large team, but in February 2014 a war broke out in eastern Ukraine and russia annexed her native Crimea. A year later, Leonidova was persuaded to participate in elections to the city council.
“If they tell you that it costs millions to become a member of the city council, don't believe them. I went the classic way - from door to door. I couldn’t offer anything material to people – I didn’t pave roads, didn’t repair roofs, didn’t distribute food. Many were skeptical about a female candidate, but there was also a reverse example. I remember how one elderly man said that he would definitely vote for me: “At least I’ll see what happens”, - Leonidova recalls.”
It was the words of this man that became a great motivation for Lilia. She wanted to prove that women can sometimes do much more than men. Now Leonidova is a councilor for the second term, she heads the commission on social policy issues in the city council, and already in 2018 she created her own Public Organization "Culture of Democracy".
Before the 2020 elections, the city began to do what Lilia had been proposing a few years before. “I am very pleased that my female voice, which used to be crushed and trampled, has finally been heard. My idea was to open the city's first inclusive venues and a beach. Also, on my initiative, the first inclusive gynecological department in Ukraine was created in Odessa. It is equipped specifically for women with disabilities - special beds, tools and bathrooms. For two years I was told that no one needed it, and in the end, even the Prime Minister of Ukraine came to the opening of the branch”, - she says.
The next big trial was COVID-19. We saved our people. The burden on the medical staff was enormous. But then we did not yet know that the worst was ahead of us. February 24, 2022 is one of the most tragic dates in Ukrainian history. The date from which the salvation of our children, women, and the elderly began. The date that separated our families. The date from which the aggressor country russia began the genocide of the Ukrainian nation. The year 2022 turned all plans for the development of social assistance for Odessans and became a year to save all the Ukrainians. And then Lilia Leonidova organized the work of the largest humanitarian center in the south of Ukraine, which name is “Gostinna Khata”.
“We thank the whole world for the help and look forward to continued support!”
Public organization "Culture of Democracy"