Sylwia Chutnik

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009


This profile was prepared when Sylwia Chutnik was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
A mother herself, Sylwia is paving the road for various mother-led initiatives across the country that integrate mothers into society. Mothers are often expected to fully sacrifice their careers and social lives in order to care for their children. The result is isolation, depression, and ultimately, complete invisibility to the rest of society. Sylwia recognized this invisibility as the biggest obstacle to the well-being and empowerment of mothers. As such, she has developed her approach around the idea of getting mothers out of the house. Sylwia works with all types of mothers—single mothers, disabled mothers, mothers of disabled children, mothers from rural areas, and so forth to voice their needs and demands. She also works with the government and businesses to better the policies and practices that inhibit the full potential of mothers.

Through mother-led initiatives, Sylwia proves that a mother’s participation in public, economic, and social spheres is not just for the sake of respecting the mother’s rights, but also creates a better environment for her child. By bringing women out of their homes to engage in “safe” public spaces—“Mother-child friendly” businesses, Banks of Time, Clubs of Moms and Dads— she directly challenges the public perception that mothers are selfish or uncaring when they address their own needs. Sylwia is also advocating for changes in public policy to improve the economic situation of mothers by enabling them to choose to be professionally active rather than remain at home. She is reforming institutions, employers, and service providers to become open and accessible through enabling mothers to voice their needs and demand respect for their rights.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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