Olena Kondratiuk, the vice-speaker of the Ukrainian parliament during the Congress’ opening mentioned that the pandemic has provoked the new circumstances in the world and new challenges, particularly for our country. However, the new reality creates new opportunities.
Olena Kondratiuk said that Ukrainians are really concerned about local elections, because local governments have gained more power due to decentralization processes, and decisions with a high level of influence on everyone’s lives will be made there. According to the Vice-speaker, it is totally unacceptable that Ukraine despite the more female population of the country has not any women in the role of the regional council’s head. At the same time there only 10% of female mayors of small cities and only 20% of women deputies in city councils. The mission is to involve more women in the ongoing local elections and the Congress has to take part in it.
In 2020 Ukraine received 56th place of 153 countries according to the results of the gender gap survey conducted annually by the World Economic Forum. This shows that the difference between men and women in their access to financial resources, in their economic capacity in Ukraine is significant, but not tremendous. There is inequality in wages and incomes in favor of men and lower employment of women than men, but this is a global trend and Ukraine’s performance in this issue is better than average.
Women in Ukraine have a better education level than men and there are more female students in universities and other types of schools. So Ukrainian women feel are not discriminated against in their access to education.
At the same time, the extremely low involvement of women in politics and political processes looks like total discrimination. In this context, the rhetorical question of the Congress’ foreign participant, the President of the Women’s Wing of the European People’s Party, Doris Paks relevant: “How many women are involved in the negotiation process on the conflict in eastern Ukraine?”
It is important to mention that there is almost no gender discrimination on local levels of political competitiveness, but with the rise of political importance and the level of power makes the discrimination increase.
This situation has become an issue for a panel discussion and representatives of different parliamentary factions and civic movements took participation in it.
It was noted that the introduction of gender quotas in party lists will help to overcome gender discrimination. According to Olha Aivazovska, the Chairman of the Board of the Public Network “Opora”, changes in Ukrainian legislation have led to the fact that “gender quota is really protected for the first time in the history of the Ukrainian elections. It is one of the requirements for the electoral list – there must be 40% of representatives of different sexes”.
At the same time, the participants of the discussion emphasized that the law opened the door for women, but then the “positive freedom” begins – the woman has to choose whether to use new opportunities or not. And that shows the problem of women’s participation in political processes that is not only in the imperfection of party structures but in the fact that women in local communities are not yet ready to enter the election race because they would have to face bullying and outdated stereotypes there.
Viola von Cramon, the Member of the European Parliament, in her motivational online address to the Congress and Ukrainian women, said: «Do not ask anybody, do not wait for anything – just do what you have to do and create something new and impressive».