The 4th Ukrainian Women’s Congress is over in Kyiv

The 4th Annual Ukrainian Women’s Congress took place 2 days in a row on November 25th, 26th, and it united 55 speakers in Kyiv, Lviv and Mariupol for establishing new agenda in Ukrainian gender policy in the times of the pandemic challenges and the lockdown.

Olena Kondratiuk, the Vice-Speaker of Ukrainian parliament and the Acting Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, opened the Congress with her inspiring speech. “Despite all the changes in the world caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite all the challenges that humanity and every country are faced with, the women leadership keeps moving forward. The politics is no more only men’s deal, it does not have exclusively male face anymore”, – she mentioned.

“We want to hear about exact actions that Government will make regarding the economic policy towards women, gender budgeting and social programs for women entrepreneurship”, – Olena Kondratiuk added.

The Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal pointed out the Ukraine’s success on the way to the gender equality in his speech. “Ukraine has raised for 6 points in gender gap index Global gender gap report and got the 59th place last year. The experts made an analysis of situation in 153 countries, considering national statistics, men’s and women’s achievements and possibilities in economic participation, career prospects, political rights, health and lifetime, and education. This is an incredibly good rate for Ukraine, and I’m sure it won’t change, because Ukrainian society will never stop in achieving ats goals”, – said the Prime minister Denys Shmyhal.

The key discussions of the first day of the Congress were dedicated to the results of local elections in Ukraine, which were the first ones to be ruled by the new Election Code. Particularly Oleksandr Kliuzhev, senior analyst in cavil network “Opora”, mentioned that media during the election campaign had multiplied and published the statements about popular female candidates made by local politicians.

The Member of the Central Election Committee Victoria Hlushchenko told that there was a liability for not following gender quotas in local elections, and it was in rejecting the whole list. “We had a controversial practice when some territorial election committees considered unfollowing gender quotas as mistakes and gave the possibility to make corrections to the lists. But the other committees applied the laws correctly and considered lookalike situations as violations”, – she mentioned.

Speakers told about expanding economic opportunities for women especially in complicated pandemic conditions. The state is supposed to be the trend-setter in women representation at top management of top companies – considered Julia Kovaliv, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, when she was speaking about statistics of women management in big state corporations during the discussion about women participation in business.

The important part of the first Congress’s day was the discussion about women’s role in peacebuilding processes.

“Currently, 58,000 women serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. With all due respect, this is more than the armies of some European countries as a whole,” said Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine for European Integration Anatoliy Petrenko. At the same time, he clarified that only 10% of servicewomen are involved in combat missions in eastern Ukraine. “Over the last 7 years, about 10,000 women have been recruited to perform their duties in the war zone. 227 women received state awards for their service, unfortunately 10 of them – posthumously”. The Deputy Minister noted that this year, 70% of service contracts signed by women are in command positions.

According to the People’s Deputy of Ukraine Iryna Herashchenko, women involved in the peaceful settlement of conflicts are showing high results. She quoted a study by the UN-Women, conducted to the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325: “According to them in more than 40 long-term conflicts that have lasted since 1991, the chances of reaching peace agreements have increased. Perhaps this is because women treat peace not only as a job, but as a mission and a part of life, ”, – Iryna Herashchenko mentioned.

Women are one of the largest groups affected by the pandemic. Maryna Lazebna, the Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, says that during the first wave of lockdown, mostly women entrepreneurs applied for the state help. “The first thing I did was draw a map of groups of people we could help. Particularly, I understood that individual entrepreneurs will not close down, and will try to keep their businesses and, most likely, will drop out of social support programs. That’s why we came up with a plan of compensations for entrepreneurs’ children. This program worked from May to September, and 87 thousand of individual entrepreneurs used their right to receive assistance. Thus, about 115 thousand children received our help. We were mostly approached by women. Now we in the government have resumed this program,” – said the Minister of Social Policy.

On the second day of the 4th Ukrainian Women’s Congress, the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska had a special speech. “The role of women in society and in the family is growing in difficult times, as is the burden on her. During the quarantine, we, women, in addition to our professional duties, also did housework, the volume of which had increased. At the same time, we managed to help children who studied at home remotely with their education,”Olena Zelenska said in her speech. “In their professional lives, women also have to face the challenges caused by the pandemic. This is especially applicable to doctors and other medical staff, because in Ukraine we have more than 80% of women in this sphere. We must not forget the teachers who personally had to learn quickly and change their professional approaches to continue teaching our children. In general, there is probably no professional field that is not affected by the pandemic,” – she said.

Olga Golubovska, the Doctor of Medical Sciences, professor, infectious disease doctor took part in the 4th Ukrainian Women’s Congress. “Viruses rule the world. We humans can fly into space, but a small coronavirus has brought the whole world to its knees,” said the infectious disease specialist. He explains whether the statistics are true: “Statistics of infectious diseases always lag behind the real situation. We get these numbers only by mathematical modulation. Apparently, both you and I know some people who have the symptoms of infectious disease, but they still sit at home and do not pass the test,” – says Olga Golubovska.

The discussion on the features of regional policy and decentralization from the perspective of ensuring equal opportunities for women and men took place in the format of a teleconference between Kyiv, Lviv and Mariupol.

“Thanks to gender quotas, 39 women deputies joined the work of the Kyiv City Council. This is more than were during the last convocation. I think women can work well with the existing challenges. We will definitely meet separately as female deputies and think about how to promote the principles of gender equality in Kyiv,” – said Maryna Poroshenko, a deputy of the Kyiv City Council, during this discussion platform.

Gender-based budgeting has brought new opportunities to building codes. The new state building standards updated requirements for the construction of kindergartens and schools. This can free up women’s resources to attract into the economy. Hennadiy Zubko, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2014-2019 emphasized these statements. “We see that medicine, education, security, local government, human resource development – these are the areas where we must take into account the equal opportunities of women and men,” – he added.

Natalia Tabinska, the co-founder and head of the agricultural service cooperative “Farmer’s Family” in the studio from Lviv, mentioned: “During the pandemic, we united 28 agricultural producers in the Lviv region. And 12 of them are businesses run by women. 55% of those who work in the agricultural sector in rural areas are women. There is a great burden on their shoulders. I would like the authorities to pay more attention to this and talk about the needs and problems of this category.”

The traditional format for the second day was the discussion with foreign ambassadors in Ukraine, who told about the experience of their countries in ensuring the policy of equal rights and opportunities in the complicated timed of the pandemic and global economic changes.

Svitlana Voitsekhovska, co-initiator of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress had the final speech. “It is important to keep systematically working on implementing the policy of equal rights and opportunities in all the spheres and on all the levels, especially during the pandemic and quarantine limitations. The policy oriented towards people’s, women’s and men’s needs will be more effective. At the time it is extremely important in healthcare both for patients and medics”, – she stated.

The event was organized by NGO “Ukrainian Women’s Congress” on the initiative of IFPA “Equal opportunities” with the support of international partners.

Learn more about the Congress’s news here


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