Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska has given her first English-language interview to Diplomatic Courier as part of President Volodymyr Zelensky's working visit to the United States, the President's Office has reported on Facebook.
In her interview, Zelenskaya spoke about her role as First Lady, areas of her work and meetings during her trip to the United States.
"From the moment I became First Lady of Ukraine, I realized the role I could play in supporting humanitarian causes, as social causes have been a passion of mine throughout my career. One of the things I've done throughout my time as First Lady, is to learn through my engagement with other First Ladies around the world, from France to Israel and Canada to Japan, and many others," Zelenska said.
She added that this was part of the driving force behind her initiative to convene the Kyiv Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen in August of this year.
Zelenska said that the summit participants had made a common commitment to address humanitarian challenges on a global scale and to pursue the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
"The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those to education, healthcare, and gender equality are our immediate priorities. While it is only a first step, the fact that we are now working together to use soft power to address these issues in a more integrated way is making a difference already. Countries are collaborating more and making a commitment to do more to address these issues," she said.
She stressed that she "truly believe[s] in soft power and cultural diplomacy." "The arts and history are two of the most effective ways to highlight and connect cultures using soft power," Zelenska said.
The First Lady also spoke about the initiative to provide Ukrainian language audio guides at key historical and heritage sites around the world and their number is already 31.
Zelenska stressed that during a luncheon meeting with Power Women, an organization of U.S. women from diverse backgrounds focused on promoting the achievements and connection of female leaders, she shared her experience establishing the First Lady Institute in Kyiv.
In addition, she spoke about the main areas of her activity, in particular, the initiative to reform the school nutrition system, the Barrier Free Ukraine initiative aimed at creating equal opportunities for all Ukrainians, and so on.
Speaking about fashion diplomacy during working trips abroad, Zelenska noted that she and the president always want to represent Ukraine "in a positive and strong way." According to her, it is also a way to promote Ukrainian designers and the fashion industry and tell the world more about Ukraine.
"In using fashion as a way to communicate, we work to meet the protocol needs on all our trips, as protocol can also be a tool of soft power during state visits and international trips," Zelenska said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska paid a working visit to the United States from August 31 through September 5 at the invitation of U.S. President Joseph Biden.