Be Like Nina is a social movement of Ukrainian nurses and medical workers founded in 2019, after nurse Nina Kozlovska posted on her Facebook profile about the conditions nurses are forced to work in Ukraine: low salaries, overtime and lack of social security. Nina’s post quickly spread among medical workers from across Ukraine. Discussions about the plight of Ukrainian nurses took place under the hashtag #Будь як Ніна. Medical workers founded a group of the same name, which today has more than 82,000 members and is a space for sharing the problems and ideas of medical workers from all over Ukraine, raising needs and demands and organising public events and protests. Leaders of the movement actively speak out in public and in the press, publicising the problems of medical workers.
In winter 2019, Be Like Nina organised the first protests in several cities in Ukraine. The demands of the movement were:
- increasing the salaries of medical workers
- an increase in health care spending to 7 per cent of GDP
- health care reform conducted with the voice of medics in mind
The protests were repeated in 2020, and in 2021, on Nurses’ Day, ‘Be Like Nina’ activists organised an action outside the Ministry of Health and led to talks with the minister. These actions were actively publicised in the media.
In November 2020, the movement officially became the social organisation Medical Movement ‘Be Like Nina’. In 2021, the Lviv Regional Trade Union of Medical and Health Care Workers was established on its basis. Thanks to the movement’s activities and cooperation with other organisations, several cases were won in court for the reinstatement of unlawfully dismissed nurses in the Lviv and Poltava regions. Activists also succeeded in bringing about the payment of outstanding salaries in a number of medical institutions.
The organisation and the trade union continue to operate even in the midst of war and strive to improve living conditions for medical workers. Although opportunities are severely limited, they do not stop standing up for their rights. Currently, ‘Be Like Nina’ provides training and coaching for nurses and medical workers across Ukraine. They also organise meetings to discuss the work of medics during the war, working conditions and the risks involved. They share experiences and plan a strategy to act and cope with the current challenges for workers and unions in Ukraine.
Currently, the organisation is also involved in providing humanitarian assistance to medical workers who find themselves in a difficult situation (housing assistance for internally displaced persons, provision of medicines and other necessities, psychological support). In addition to this, it actively establishes cooperation with international organisations that support the activities of Be Like Nina and the trade union.