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First Lady Olena Zelenska urges social media companies to stop censoring what’s happening in Ukraine

November 4, 2022, 11:58 AM UTC
Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine at Centre Stage during the opening night of Web Summit 2022 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.
Piaras Ó Mídheach—Web Summit/Sportsfile/Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Men and women both believe remote work can help career advancement, the U.S. Embassy meets with Brittney Griner, and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska says businesses must do more to help Ukraine.

– Plea for action. Earlier this year, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska posted a photo on social media of a girl killed in the country’s war with Russia. But social media platforms hid the photo, tagging it as sensitive content.

“I think it’s wrong,” Zelenska told me at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, yesterday. “Don’t hide from this.”

Social media platforms are responsible for showing the world what’s happening in Ukraine and bringing light to the on-the-ground reality for women and girls in the country, she said. “It’s the truth, and the world should know.”

Zelenska attended the summit, Europe’s largest tech conference, to speak to corporate leaders about how they can support Ukraine. The Ukrainian delegation met with Microsoft, she said, but hasn’t yet spoken with Meta (she didn’t specify which social media platforms hid her post).

Ukraine has been devastated since Russia’s February invasion, with a death toll of almost 6,000 and more than 8,000 people injured. Zelenska gave a keynote address on Tuesday night before meeting with a small group of journalists on Thursday, answering questions through a translator.

Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine at Centre Stage during the opening night of Web Summit 2022 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.
Piaras Ó Mídheach—Web Summit/Sportsfile/Getty Images

The first lady highlighted her Olena Zelenska Foundation, a nonprofit that works to secure medical supplies and humanitarian aid but whose larger mission is to “restore the human capital of Ukraine.”

She noted that small businesses in Ukraine are doing their part for the country, citing hairdressers who cut soldiers’ hair for free. But the global business community could do more to aid Ukrainian efforts. “This is exactly what we are here for,” she said of attending Web Summit.

Asked what conditions would be required for Ukraine to commit to a peace agreement with Russia, Zelenska joked that she’s “not wearing a khaki shirt” and she’s not her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky. But she said the war’s toll will stick with the people of Ukraine for generations to come.

“It’s difficult to find a woman in the world who would watch what is happening in Ukraine without emotion,” she said. “Mothers especially, and wives, feel that they can understand.”

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Subscribe here.


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