The Dialogue about the economic participation of women of vulnerable groups took place in Zaporizhzhia

The Ukrainian Women’s Congress in the format of Regional Dialogue took place the second time in Zaporizhzhia after Kremenchuk. The agenda covered the issues of economic challenges for women on the local level, social entrepreneurship and increasing the economic participation of women of vulnerable groups in regions.

The opening speeches were held by the co-founders of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress: Svitlana VOITSEKHOVSKA, the People’s Deputy of Ukraine (2014-2019), and Maria IONOVA, the People’s Deputy of Ukraine. Alona BABAK, the Minister of Communities and Territories (2019-2020), was the moderator of the Dialogue. Olena ZHUK, the Head of the Zaporizhzhia regional council, joined the discussion.

«The traditional business works to raise income for owners, but when we talk about social entrepreneurship we can see this income being invested to achieve some big and significant purpose. The geography of companies of this type spreads all over Ukraine but most of them are in Kyiv, Lviv, Poltava, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. That’s why we are not tired of being grateful to our partners who keep supporting the Ukrainian Women’s Congress’s Dialogues, particularly this one in Zaporizhzhia», – mentioned Maria Ionova during the opening of the Dialogue by the Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Zaporizhzhia.

«The topic that we cover today is urgent and very sensitive. All the issues connected to women’s entrepreneurship put women in danger in the period of the pandemic. And the main one is loss of income. The situations of domestic violence and oppression of women facing multi-discrimination have grown significantly during the pandemic. Every woman experienced discrimination at least once in life, but women from vulnerable groups overcome it every day», – said Svitlana Voitsekhovska.

Olena Zhuk, the head of Zaporizhzhia regional council, took part in the discussion and mentioned: «Zaporizhzhia regional council has 30% of women in this convocation and this is just the beginning. Great logic is in the fact that there are more and more women in authorities and business, especially in top management». According to the head of the regional council, there are 2 key issues: the pandemic that decreased the immunity level not only of people but of businesses and companies too, and the location of the Zaporizhzhia region near the frontline zone. «Women play the role of mediators and protectors who can change history”, – she concluded.

The members of the Zaporizhzhia region’s NGOs played an important role in this discussion.

Inessa NOSENKO, Chairman of the Jewish Community Center “Mazal Tov”,  Anzhelika BELOVA, the president of the NGO “Union of Roma women “Romni voice”, Tamara OHORODOVA, Chairman of the Board of the Zaporizhia Charitable Foundation “Unity for the Future” had their words during the Dialogue.

«Today we have a unique event, where we, the representatives of NGOs fighting for the interests of vulnerable groups of women, can raise the problems we want to discuss. For example, Roma women have become more vulnerable during the pandemic. Roma women suffer multi discrimination because they are women, and they are Romni, and their rights and opportunities are limited due to the traditional opinions inside their native community. The pandemic made the social and economic state of Roma women worse»,Anzhelika BELOVA, the president of the NGO “Union of Roma women “Romni voice” shared.

Olha REVUK, the Deputy Minister of Social Policy, mentioned that the Ministry was currently working on the National Strategy of Equal rights and opportunities for women and men: «The National Strategy for equal rights and opportunities for women and men is one more significant document we are working on right now. We would really appreciate the opinions from regions on how to improve the state of vulnerable groups of people».

The topic of social entrepreneurship was also covered by participants. Roksolana PIDLASA, the People’s Deputy of Ukraine, the deputy head of the Committee for the economic development of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, talked about the Parliament’s work on the bill to regulate social enterprises in Ukraine. According to her, the bill is expected to be ready and registered this autumn.

«We are working on the bill that covers the issues of social entrepreneurship. There is a discussion among the deputies especially about the idea to reserve 30% of the income of a social company for social goals. There are thoughts that the numbers should reach 50% of income. One more discussion touches on the idea of whether the social goals should be defined in the enterprise’s charter or not. So we need to have a dialogue, especially with NGOs», – said the People’s Deputy of Ukraine.

Considering the results of the meetings during the event the Ukrainian Women’s Congress is going to prepare a practical guide for the realistic steps to be made on the local level to support effective economic recovery. Congress will send these recommendations to the government and other authorities and will inform society about the results of the Dialogue.

The next regional Dialogue is planned to take place in Ivano-Frankivsk this autumn.

The event is organized by the NGO “Ukrainian Women’s Congress” with the support of the National Democratic Institute, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Affairs Canada, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom. The National Democratic Institute is the partner of USAID DOBRE, implemented by the consortium of partners headed by Global Communities.

You can watch the video on the Ukrainian Women’s Congress’s resources: