Ukrainian Women’s Congress took place in Mariupol on the 7th of June and was initiated by inter-fractional parliamentary association in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine “Equal opportunities” and organized by NGO «Ukrainian Women’s Congress».

110 participants from Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kirovograd, Lviv and other regions were involved into public discussions. 18 experienced speakers spoke at the Ukrainian Women’s Congress, and named important theses about gender policy, equal rights of men and women in security and defense, gender quotes and creating comfortable spaces for men and women citizens.

The people’s deputy of Ukraine, co-chairman of inter-fractional parliamentary association “Equal opportunities” Svitlana Voytsekhovska during the ceremonial opening of discussion “Women in politics and security and defense” gave some statistics information: “Gender policy problems united women and men deputies. When it is said that we have equal rights, there come some questions in my head: why Ukraine’s women have 23% less salary than men? Why there are only 11% of women deputies in Ukrainian parliament? If we truly want to get answers than we have to become politicians!”. The net word after Svitlana Voytsekhovska was held by people’s deputy of Ukraine Dmytro Lubinets. His confession conquered the audience: “I am feminist. And as a man I want to destroy a stereotype, that men do everything they can to prevent women from gaining access to politics. No! We are waiting for you in the Parliament! And I hope that the next convocation will engage more women deputies. Even 25% would be a great result».

Their own thoughts were expressed by Governmental Commissioner for Gender Policy Kateryna Levchenko (who was appointed to this post exactly 2 years ago, June, 07, 2017), gender counselor of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Viktoriya Arnautova, NGO’s “New Mariupol” chairwoman Mariya Podybailo (she mentioned that culture of activism in Mariupol has just started to take its shape)and woman veteran Andrianna Susak-Arekhta (she told about the discrimination in Soldiery). Special speech was by the head of veteran business development center “SUVIATO” Liya Kotiash, who mentioned: “I greet new opportunities in Ukrainian laws which allow women have jobs that were considered to be only for men, I’m glad for the perspectives of implementing gender sensitive approach in military educational centers next year”.

After a short break, participants started a public discussion about creating cities of equal opportunities. Nataliya Tarasenko, the chairman of youth organization “The parity” from Zhytomyr shared some practical cases about creating gender passport of the city and expressed her hope for conducting research and implementing gender passport in Mariupol soon. Local consultant of GRB (Gender responsible budgeting) project in Zaporizhzhia region Tamara Ohorodova mentioned that gender responsible analysis matters not only because of numbers and statistics, but also because of confidence and exact understanding of implemented goal and completed tasks. Kharkiv city council deputy, city mayor’s counselor Olga Chychyna highlighted the importance of unity and awareness of citizens about gender policy problems.

Special atmosphere at open-talks was created by the moderator, and it was granted by applauds. The people’s deputy of Ukraine, co-chairman of inter-fractional parliamentary association “Equal opportunities” Alyona Babak professionally managed all the audience’s questions and the process od discussion in general, and gave examples from her own experience.

Discussion platform “The new ambassadors of gender equality and friendly cities development – Who are they?” was the part of Ukrainian Women’s Congress. Interests of public audience, city-building companies and media were represented there. Activist Uliana Pcholkina, Head’s assistant on corporative affairs in Interpipe Ukraine Liudmyla Novak and journalist Andriy Kulikov gave examples from different Ukrainian cities, where they saw solutions for problems of discrimination, inclusion, creating comfortable spaces for all categories of citizens. Women and men participants were interested in those stories and accepted call to action and implementing projects in their cities.

Final part of Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Mariupol was about resuming conclusions. The most impressing was an inspiration of people’s deputy of Ukraine, co-chairman of inter-fractional parliamentary association “Equal opportunities” Svitlana Voytsekhovska, which she shared with present people. She said: “If you have a dream – so reach your goal. Today and now”.

Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Mariupol made the next step for achieving equality of rights and opportunities for men and women in all the regions of our state. This platform is a ground for dialogue among local and state authorities, public activists, business and media for experience and ideas exchange, for founding new cooperation initiatives.

It is expected that NGO «Ukrainian Women’s Congress» will conduct national event at the end of the year in Kyiv, and its agenda will include the results of Congress in Mariupol.