My name is Christina and I’m a Programs and Membership intern this summer at the UNA-GB. I am from New York and currently attend Boston College as an undergraduate student studying International Studies and Hispanic Studies.
On July 1st, I attended the Women’s Forum Panel on Political Participation and was very impressed by the panelists’ experiences as well as their knowledge of women in politics in their home countries. Ella Lamakh from Ukraine especially stood out to me and I would love to share a few of the issues she spoke about.
Director of Family Affairs and Gender Policy Department, Ministry for Family, Youth and Sport, Ella is originally from Ukraine and focused on women in Ukrainian politics today and what is being to done to increase that participation.
She started off explaining that legislation on gender equality does exist in Ukraine. However, even though the legislation is written it is not regularly enforced in the country. The predominately male parliament and the surviving Soviet mentality continue to prevent Ukrainian progress in gender equality. The Soviet stereotype of women belonging in the home persists in Ukraine and is further reinforced by the media. Even the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, has recently made remarks stating that women are inept at holding positions in high political offices and ought to stay in the kitchen. (Guardian.co.uk)
Although this stereotype is prevalent, 60% of Ukraine’s local councils, which are unpaid positions, are composed of women. However, there are only 7% of women in the paid national Ukrainian council. These statistics show the difficulties in increasing women’s political participation in high political offices.
In an effort to change the mentality towards women in office, Ella explained that she is involved with a campaign to stop violence against women, which encompasses an emergency hotline and anti-violence training programs.
Thank you, Ella, for enlightening us on the social attitudes that make it difficult for women to be elected. We hope that this will change in the near future due to people like you.