Over a half of Ukrainians consider women are underrepresented in politics – research

Kyiv, November 1, 2016. In Ukraine only 12 percent of women take part in political decision-making of the country. Respective average figure in the EU is 23%. In order to change the situation the All-Ukrainian NGO “Women’s Consortium Ukraine” started a project to establish women’s political lobby in Ukraine, said Vira Porovska, program director of the organization speaking at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The organization has 15 representations across Ukraine and is part of the consortium of 35 organizations that deal with women’s rights. “We will work with parties so that they support women and include them into their party lists, with women to empower them and train them to successfully campaign as well as with communities, taking into account that it is them who vote and their influence can hardly be overestimated,” explained Porovska.

Yulia Savelieva, gender equality program coordinator at the All-Ukrainian NGO “Women’s Consortium Ukraine”, said that in order to find out the attitude towards women in politics they held an opinion poll surveying four thousand persons in four clusters, each composed of several Ukraine’s regions.

Why women are underrepresented in power?

Results of the research demonstrate that Ukrainians are mostly dissatisfied with the extent to which women are represented in politics. Communities need to be freed from stereotypes as to the role of women in politics, while women themselves need support and additional resources to ensure such participation.

Thus, 55% of the interviewed think women in Ukrainian politics are underrepresented at the national level – in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) and in the government. At the same time the situation is a bit different at local level. “Indeed there are more women at the level of regional, city, village and town communities. The further from the center, the more they even prevail in number over men,” Savelieva noted.

As to the reasons for such a situation, 47% think that stereotypes are an obstacle for women, 34% think that women themselves lack will, 27% said women lack money. Moreover, 37% of the interviewed men think that women themselves do not want it, 23% think that politics is not a woman’s business. At the same time 32% of women pointed at the lack of support and money, 50% on stereotypes as the main reason for low level of participation of women in politics. “We need to form the change of beliefs as it is what defines the choice that Ukrainians make. We need to bridge the gap with the parties that present their candidates, work with communities to get rid of the stereotypes as well as work with women, support them with information so that they are more confident,” noted Savelieva. “When a woman was appointed to the post of the head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, media voiced the stereotypes, comments on the color of her hair and her private life, instead of discussing her professional level,” added journalist Olha Vesnyanka.

What can women change?

“Women’s presence in political life of Ukraine can be the factor that will stimulate wider and quicker changes,” explained Pokrovska. Over a half (57%) of respondents agreed with the statement that wider participation of women in the country’s political life is a sign of democratic development.

Working with parties and voters instead of quotas

According to Yulia Savelieva, 44% of the pollees said a positive image of a female politician needs to be promoted among the citizens to increase women’s political activity, 41% said parties need to be encouraged to include women in their lists. At the same time majority of the interviewed do not support the idea of legally established quotas for women in the party lists. Vira Porovska added that the Ukrainian legislation already stipulates 30% quotas for women, however only 12% of the current members of the parlimanet are women. She explained that the reason for that is lack of responsibility over the non-conformity with the requirements and the lack of mechanism to introduce the quota.