Balashova, Oksana

Contact Details

Kleine Rosenstr. 1-3, D-34109 Kassel, Germany



ICDD/Kassel University

PhD Project Title:

The role of trade unions in enforcing social and labor rights for domestic workers: The case of Ukrainian migrant workers in Italy.

Abstract of PhD Thesis

The PhD project will survey the economic, political, and labor rights of migrant domestic workers in Italy, and compare and evaluate new labor advocacy strategies from the trade union movement, worker rights centers, and other informal and grey economy organizing models.  The work will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of existing strategies of Italian trade unions to ensure the application of workers’ social and labor rights in the domestic work sector, incorporating the emerging international standards of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention 189. The project will use the Ukrainian migrant community in Italy, which recent estimates place at more than half-a-million workers, as a lens through which to review labor migrant advocacy strategies. 


Helen Schwenken

Area of Interest

Labor rights and migration, gender studies, political economy, social movements, trade union organizing.

Educational Background


College of Europe, Warsaw, Poland
Master of Arts Degree in European Interdisciplinary Studies,
Major in European Union as a Global Actor.


State Teachers Training University, Ukraine
Department of Foreign Languages. Honors Bachelor and Specialist degrees in Education, Major in English, French and German Language and Literature.

Professional Experience

2012 – 2014

Solidarity Center, American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Kyiv, Ukraine
Program Officer, researcher (East European region)

2010 – 2012

Solidarity Center, American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Kyiv, Ukraine
Program Assistant


United States Peace Corps, Ukraine


 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Long-term election observation team, Ukraine


Parliament of Ukraine, Department of Inter-Parliamentary Relations, Kyiv, Ukraine
Intern, National Parliamentary Internship Program

Awards / Scholarships

  • PhD scholarship recipient, International Center for Development and Decent Work (funded by the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD), 2014
  • Masters scholarship recipient, College of Europe, Poland, 2008


Balashova O. (2012). Labor advocacy and International Finance Institutions in Ukraine: A review of trade union and civil society opportunities for cooperation, Solidarity Center.