Ukrainian Women’s Congress (ONLINE) took part on Thursday, the 23rd of July on the initiative of the Parliament Inter-Factional Deputies’ Association “Equal Opportunities” and with the support of international partners.
The participants discussed the new challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown and their influence on local elections in Ukraine and the role of political and civic leadership.
Olena Kondratiuk, the Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine opened the Congress with her inspiring speech. She stressed that the new reality creates new opportunities. This year placed a great challenge of COVID-19, but it is still not the reason to give up.
She also mentioned:
“We worked hard to win the gender quota of 40% of the same sex on the voter lists. We expect its effect, so we strive to attract and encourage as many women as possible to participate in these elections. But we also see many obstacles along the way which are unequal financial opportunities, insecurity, fear.
So I call all the election process participants, the Central Elections Commission, political parties and NGOs who watch the elections to do all their best to transform this 40% quota into reality. Our women need to use their constitutional right to be elected, their right to take their part in state governing. And be sure, society will benefit from this”.
The first discussion platform: local elections
The first discussion platform was dedicated to the issue of the local elections and increasing the number of women in politics. The participants discussed election laws changes and the pandemic influence on the elections process in Ukraine.
During the discussion, people’s deputies of Ukraine Oleksii Zhmerenetskyi, Viktoria Siumar and Inna Sovsun together with Olha Aivazovska, chairman of the board of the Public network “Opora”, defined the main obstacles and opportunities for women’s active participation in local elections. Vadym Karpiak, host of the political talk show “Svoboda Slova” (ICTV channel) moderated the discussion.
The people’s deputy of Ukraine Viktoria Siumar mentioned: “We and our country managed to make a great step forward to increasing the women’s presence in politics. It happened thanks to Ukrainian Women’s Congress which organizes important Congresses 3 years in a row. The road is made by walking. But Ukrainian politics still remain too sexist”.
Olha Aivazovska, chairman of the board of the Public network “Opora” admits: “It is the first time in the history of Ukrainian elections when the gender quota is not formal, but actually a protected category. It must be maintained in the list of papers submitted by candidates. The smallest gender proportion that should be provided is 40% representation of different sexes”.
“The “gender” issue is a matter of time despite we in the “Golos” party actually have gender equality. The party’s leader and one of the deputy chairmen are women. 30% of regional branches have women leaders. But when we talk about local politics, women are not yet ready to take part in the local elections, because they are worried about themselves. Women in politics more frequently face bullying, and this reason makes them stay away. But today is the time when parties need women more than ever!”, – added Inna Sovsun, the people’s deputy of Ukraine.
The video introduction from the United States by Michelle McGrorty, the senior program manager for political parties in the National Democratic Institute in Ukraine, became an important part of the discussion.
Viola von Cramon, the Member of the European Parliament, and Doris Pack, the President of the European People’s Party Women, sent their inspiring video appeals on women’s participation in the October 2020 local elections to the participants of the Congress.
“If you want to make changes for a better future in Ukraine, this won’t work without women making decisions in politics. And the basis for increasing the number of women in government and political leadership should be established in the local and regional levels”, – told Viola von Cramon, the Member of the European Parliament.
Doris Pack, the President of the European People’s Party Women: “Women of Ukraine, you must use these local elections in October to show your commitment to the needs of the community. You are as good as men. Even better – because you are close to your roots. This is the future of your country and your children. You can do it! You have to do it! Make everyone hear your voice!”
The second discussion platform: the pandemics and economics
The second discussion platform raised the issues of providing protection to women and men during the pandemic. The participants, moderated by Olesia Zhulynska, public relations director in Coca-Cola Ukraine, discussed the impact of the pandemic on the security and economic circumstances for women and men, as well as certain vulnerable groups in Ukraine.
Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, Kateryna Pavlichenko, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Olha Rudnieva, the Head of Olena Pinchuk Foundation, and Nataliia Yemchenko, the public relations director of SCM, were seeking for a solution to challenges and issues caused by the pandemic and economic crisis during the discussion.
Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine mentioned: “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world is experiencing a crisis that is burdening society, but women are suffering more as a result of gender inequality. Medical and social workers play an extremely important role at the forefront of overcoming the coronavirus infection. Ukraine is no exception. The key task that should unite government and society is a wide range of gender-sensitive response measures. And this is my mission as Deputy Prime Minister”.
As Deputy Prime Minister says, the government plans to establish a coordination platform under her control in the following month. It would summarize all the issues related to the crisis and inequality between women and men in labor rights, wages, and parental leave.
Kateryna Pavlichenko, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs added: “The issue of violence is the focus of our activities. We create informational campaigns, processed a safety plan for people who suffer from domestic violence. Our task is to raise public awareness about domestic violence. We created a chatbot in Telegram and Viber messengers as a response to our society’s demand for online resources. It provides information and lets to contact the police”.
Dafina Gercheva, the UNDP Resident Representative to Ukraine, send her impressive video appeal to the participants of the Congress. She represented interesting research results.
The United Nations Development System in Ukraine recently conducted a comprehensive assessment of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the country. The analysis considered gender and human rights issues highlighting specific challenges faced by women and men that prevent them from having equal access to opportunities, services, including access to justice and legal aid, labor markets and capital. Some preliminary evaluation results are in the following:
- Girls and women face more danger because of higher risk to be infected by the coronavirus and this fact puts their families at risk;
- 82% of the total number of medical and social workers in Ukraine are women comparing to the average number of 70% in the world. Many of those women suffer from stress and anxiety that has a bad influence on their professional motivation;
- Only 14% of female medics interviewed admitted that they are fully equipped with PPE;
- Most of the women who work overtime in medical service also face the increase of unpaid housework burden;
- Quarantine and lockdown provoked the growth of domestic violence. The number of reported cases increased by 30%.
The third discussion platform: effective leadership
The third discussion platform was focused on the role of political and civic leadership in overcoming the pandemic and lockdown. Svitlana Matviienko, the Chairman of the Board of the Laboratory of Legislative Initiatives moderated it. Participants discussed the influence of new life conditions on the approaches to decisions, and the way to achieve balance between the interests of the state and business meeting the needs of different female and male groups.
Larysa Haladza, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Ukraine, Iryna Sadoviak, the First Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine, Kateryna Bulavinova, UNICEF medical expert, Maryna Khonda, Deputy Head of the Kyiv City State Administration, and Tetiana Semenova, First Deputy Chairman of the Kyiv Regional Council were the speakers of the platform.
Larysa Haladza, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Ukraine said: “I would like to mention Ukrainian civil society, and its quick response to this new challenge. It inspires me a lot. I know such examples all over Ukraine. Most of the volunteers were women who quickly understood how the pandemic would affect their communities, ither people, their daily lives, and were really quick in accumulating available and unavailable resources to help vulnerable groups of society”.
Olena Zhadko, the mayor of Marganets (Dnipropetrovsk region), and Uliana Tkachenko, the deputy of Khmelnytskyi regional council joined the discussion in a video conference mode.
Ukrainian Women’s Congress (ONLINE) resolution
Maria Ionova, the People’s Deputy of Ukraine and the Congress initiator, performed the official closing of the event.
“Ukraine should be proactive in overcoming the pandemic and its consequences. That’s the reason for Ukrainian Women’s Congress to actualize social discussion aimed to find new solutions and opportunities for ensuring safe life for women and men. And that could be possible only if there is responsible and effective political leadership on every governing level. We prepared the resolution which covers most of the issues mentioned at discussion platforms, and we hope these recommendations will be considered by government, public and participants of the election process as the pointer”, Maria Ionova mentioned.
The result of Ukrainian Women’s congress is traditionally the resolution which sets the new agenda for the Ukrainian Parliament, central and local governments, and civic society institutions.
The 4th Ukrainian Women’s Congress is planned to take place in Kyiv in December,202. Please, follow the announcements.
Read the full text of resolution on the Ukrainian Women’s Congress website http://womenua.today
Watch record of the live video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBp0eIPDox8MYhj-WZd5NIQ