INSIGHTS OF THE UKRAINIAN WOMEN’S CONGRESS IN LVIV WILL BE USED TO STRENGTHEN EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES OF MEN AND WOMEN
The Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Lviv was held on 28 November. It was attended by over 100 guests from Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Chernivtsi, Khmelnytsky, as well as Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Lugansk oblasts. These are representatives of united territorial communities, local self-government bodies, state authorities, public activists. They discussed foreign and Ukrainian experience of implementing equal opportunities for women and men in the society, emphasized the need to harmonize the effective legislation with regard to the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination, urged for elimination of public and everyday gender stereotypes.
Closing the Congress, Olena Kondratiuk – MP of Ukraine, Co-chair of IDA “Equal Opportunities”, Secretary of the parliamentary Committee for Freedom of Speech and Information Policy, assured the colleagues that the proposals of the participants of the event would certainly be included in the agenda of the Second Ukrainian Women’s Congress to be held on 7-8 December in Kyiv.
The Congress worked in three formats: discussion platform, public lectures with discussions, and “live library”.
During the first presentation at the forum, Anastasia Divinska, Representative of UN Women in Ukraine, recommended to abolish all legislative provisions that directly discriminate against women, in particular, those governing marriage and divorce, upbringing of children, receiving inheritance, freedom of movement, access to financial resources, lending and income earning.
If balance between men and women existed at all levels of power, it would be more focused on daily needs of people and would have a lower level of corruption, said Ian Woodward, Deputy Director of NDI-Ukraine, based on the results of a sociological survey conducted in Ukraine and presented by him at the Congress.
This opinion was confirmed during the discussion platform of the Congress moderated by Maria Ionova – MP of Ukraine, Co-chair of IDA “Equal Opportunities”, acting Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration. Oleg Synyutka – Head of Lviv Regional State Administration and Andriy Sadovyi – Lviv City Mayor talked about the gender situation in regional power. In particular, the LRSA Head said that there were three women among his deputies and two thirds – among heads of departments. He stressed that Lviv region largely owes its successes to women. Lviv City Mayor reported that more than half of the city council staff were women.
A new working format, public lectures with discussions, was introduced during the Congress in Lviv. “ We want industry professionals, not politicians, to provide information about what is happening in the economy, the financial sector, which are imbalances exist”, said moderator Aliona Babak – MP of Ukraine, Co-chair of IDA “Equal Opportunities”, deputy Chairman of the parliamentary Committee for construction, urban development, housing and utility services. She stressed that Ukraine has an enormous potential through attraction of women’s economic activity. However, according to statistics, in 2018, only 8.1 million of 12.2 million women of working age in Ukraine are economically active. Another 4 million Ukrainian women have not worked a single day – either as hired staff or in own businesses; they are not registered in the employment service, so they are not included into statistics about economic activity.
According to MP Olena Kondratiuk, women in Ukraine work less than men, because they give birth to children and care for their families. At the same time, they receive 20-25% lower wages than men. Women aged 30-39 are only employed for 75%, while men – for 90%. This is why, women are unable to earn decent wages and track record for retirement. Women retire earlier than men and live longer, but they have to live with meager resources. They are currently not involved in the country’s economic life; therefore, these issues need to be publicized.
Maja Bosni?, Head of the “Gender-oriented budgeting in Ukraine” project, made an introduction to the discussion of the economic framework and financial instruments that establish parity between women and men. This project is being implemented in the country during 2014-2020. The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, the main project beneficiary, is actively working on the integration of the gender approach to the budget process and related documents. Maja Bosni? informed that gender budget analysis of 99 programs funded from the state and local budgets had been carried out. Today, the gender approach is integrated into 60 datasheets of budget programs. It will help us to identify and overcome gender gaps in various areas, to ensure equal access to high-quality services for women and men. The integration of the gender approach to budget-related documents will make gender-oriented budgeting compulsory for all key spending units.
During the interactive session in the “live library” format, 6 speakers, so-called “live books”, talked about how women influence the development of the western region. Among them were majority MPs Oksana Yurynets and Iryna Podoliak, members of IDA “Equal Opportunities”, who shared their success stories. Liubov Maksymovych, Head of NGO “Women’s Prospects” Center, this year’s winner of the contest of gender initiatives of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, told about the work on a new project that will help to “draw” Lviv’s first gender portrait. Over 300 women will have the opportunity to raise their awareness and business skills, as well as identify leadership qualities during the Project, she said.
“Due to women’s mentoring, coaching and joint efforts, equality between women and men will turn from a trend into a true Ukrainian tradition”, insists Maria Ionova – MP of Ukraine, Co-chair of IDA “Equal Opportunities”, acting Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration, “The Inter-Factional Deputy Association “Equal Opportunities” has been operating during the last three convocations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Representatives of various political forces within the Association are united by the common goal of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men in all areas of socio-economic life. 53 IDAs have already been created in Ukraine by analogy. Such events as the Ukrainian Women’s Congress undoubtedly motivate women to actively participate in life of their communities”.
Maria Ionova believes that the state has all legislative mechanisms required to make Ukrainian women economically active. However, they do not effective due to lack of information at the local level. “We can see that our society is still characterized by traditionalism, inclination to stereotypes. Today’s event is an effort to overcome stereotypes. We are glad that men have heard our concerns and joined us”, the MP said.
The Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Lviv was held at the initiative of the Inter-Factional Deputy Association in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine “Equal Opportunities” and with support from partners: the National Democratic Institute, the US Agency for International Development, UN Women, the “Gender-oriented budgeting in Ukraine” Project, the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, the international organization Global Communities, the Embassies of Sweden, Norway and Denmark in Ukraine, and the UK Good Governance Fund.