“In order to build sustainable parity between women and men, it is necessary to drastically change existing rules and procedures that impede the realization of women’s potential,” said Ian Woodward, Deputy Director of NDI-Ukraine, during the presentation “Disinformation Attack on Gender” at the Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Lviv.

According to him, one of such obstacles is disinformation concerning gender equality and gender in particular.
Drawing parallels between Ukraine and the United States, Ian Woodward emphasized that in both countries, media adopt different attitudes towards men and women. He cited the results of sociological surveys demonstrating these differences. Thus, answering the question “Who is more involved in political life, men or women?”, the convincing majority of Ukrainian respondents said that men were more involved in political life.

At the same time, the respondents’ answers to the question “Who should be more involved in political life?” revealed much greater demand for equal representation. Support for gender equality was identified during surveys throughout Ukraine. Thus, the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian citizens believe that women and men should be equally represented in political life.

Ian Woodward noted that in Ukraine, there are many examples of disinformation attacks on any steps towards gender equality; some even try to demonize the term “gender”, to distort its content. Very often, such disinformation attacks have external sources, are generated outside of Ukraine. However, such provocations do not lead to results expected by their organizers. On the contrary, when people are exposed to provocative messages every day, they often react in the opposite way.

There is another problem that impedes the achievement of gender equality in practice in the Ukrainian society. The fact is that women themselves are less inclined to associate themselves with political life than men. This means, certain barriers exist in the minds of women themselves.

Therefore, as Ian Woodward stressed, one should be aware that the clear reality guiding women into leadership has serious cultural implication, not just occupation of leadership posts by women. Achieving this culture is a marathon, not a sprint. Accordingly, it will take some time to see the fruits of such work. The result, however, will go far beyond of simply increasing the number of women in management. Rather, a joint, open government will be formed, when men and women can lead their country to prosperity. If balance between women and men is established at all levels of power, this kind of government will have a lower level of corruption and will be more focused on addressing everyday needs of people.