Analyst of the OPORA civil network: “Some of the female candidates in the local elections faced gender biases”

Oleksandr Klyuzhev, the senior analyst at the OPORA civil network, said that the media disseminated the quotes of local politicians with regard to popular female candidates during the election campaign.

“The cases in the local elections show that biases regarding the female candidates are not eliminated. Some of the examples are very disturbing. Gender biases were observed in these cases. A local politician expressed a biased view with regard to a certain female candidate and the media eagerly disseminated it. I believe that apart from the legal requirements we have to ensure a new atmosphere in politics. We have just started our way in this direction,” Mr Klyuzhev said at the panel discussion on local elections at the Fourth Women’s Congress.

Yevheniya Kravchuk, MP from Sluha Narodu, noted that gender stereotypes in the local elections were mostly observed when it came to electing the mayors. “At the moment, there are no female mayors in Ukraine and not even one female head of the regional council. Gender stereotypes are the reason. At the same time, according to the sociological surveys, 80% of Ukrainians think that women and men equally represent their interests as members of Parliament and local councils. Yet when it comes to leadership and decision making the public prefers men. I acknowledge that as a representative of Sluha Narodu. There are 225 heads of amalgamated hromadas and only 31 of them are women,” Ms Kravchuk said.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, MP from Yevropeyska Solidarnist, said that despite gender quotas, the attitude to both genders is not equal in Ukrainian politics. “54% of Ukrainian population are women. Women are not represented equally either at regional or local levels. A pyramid still exists in politics where in local communities, there are 42% of women and in the Parliament – 21%. The higher the political level is, the less women are there”.

Serhiy Sobolev, MP from Batkivshchyna, reminded that Olena Kondradtyuk, who opened the Congress this year, was elected as a Deputy Head of Parliament by his faction. “We have always broken the stereotypes. The only female Prime Minister in Ukrainian history also represented our party,” Serhiy Sobolev said.

Not only the number of elected women is important, but also the share of women among the candidates, Kira Rudyk, MP from Holos, believes. “There were very few female candidates. It means that if we will not force the parties to include women in the lists, they will support them minimally,” Ms Rudyk said.

Viktoria Hlushchenko, the member of the Central Election Commission, noted that the parties risked not to have the entire list registered if they did not follow gender quotas. “Some of the district commissions regarded the ignoring of gender quotas as mistakes or inconsistencies and gave the parties the opportunity to edit their lists according to the Election Code. Some of the commissions regarded such cases as violations as they should be treated according to the law,” Ms Hlushchenko said.

“The 2020 elections in Ukraine have become an important reflection point. As Ukraine continues its democratic path, there is a lot to think about. Among those who made it possible is Ukrainian Parliament. I would like to admit the demand among the Ukrainian people for better representation of women in Ukrainian politics remains amazingly strong and consistent. Two thirds of Ukrainians demand better women’s political participation. It does not matter where you ask this question: from East to West, from North to South, young and old, men and women. The demand remains the same. But the number of women elected could have exceeded 40% had women been evenly distributed at the top of lists,” Ian Woodward, the director of National Democratic Institute of Ukraine said.

The local elections in Ukraine took place on October 25. Most of the cities have elected their mayors in the first round, but there were also cities that held two rounds. On November 15, the second round of elections of the mayors, took place in Lutsk, Kramatorsk, Odesa, Sumy, Kherson and Kamyanets-Podilskyi. On November 22, the residents of Dnipro, Mykolaiv, Lviv, Poltava, Rivne, Cherkasy, Uzhhorod, Sloviansk, Berdyansk, Drohobych and Nikopol elected their mayors. The final second round will take place in Chernivtsi, on November 29.