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Discussion of gender issues at the Embassy of Canada to Ukraine

On March 1, 2011 the Embassy of Canada to Ukraine held a meeting of gender experts.

The meeting was attended by Kati Csaba, the Head of CIDA Cooperation Section, Natalia Zavarzina, Project Expert, the Embassy of Canada, Embassy staff and researchers.

Such meetings of gender experts have become traditional. They include speeches and reports by Ukrainian and Canadian leading experts in particular gender aspects, presentations of research results and, of course, sharing experience on integrating gender mainstreaming into project activities.

The March meeting was devoted to discussion of the impact of administrative reform on institutional mechanisms of gender equality in Ukraine, gender and corruption issues in higher education, review of gender-sensitive indicators of efficient integration of gender equality into technical cooperation projects.

Elena Volyanska, representative of the Combating Corruption Project in Ukraine briefed the audience on the outcomes of research on gender specifics of corrupt behavior, motivation of corrupt behavior and anti-corruption potential of women and men. Although the presented data suggest against any clear-cut gender related specifics in corrupt behavior, yet there are merely male and female practices relating to uneven distribution of men and women in a vertical subordination of positions. When discussing the research outcomes, the meeting participants agreed on the urgent need to combat the spread of corruption culture in society, the need to find best possible solutions about wages and salaries, introduce quotas in allocation of leadership positions in universities. The organizational measures would include strengthening control over teachers and sanctions to both bribe taking (fines, discharge) and bribe giving individuals.

The impact of administrative reform at the introduction of institutional gender equality in Ukraine was discussed by Larisa Mahdyuk, the gender expert of the Embassy of Canada to Ukraine, Ludmila Chernyavska, MLED expert on gender equality and Serhyi Kotenko, Director of the Public Policy Development and Implementation Project.

Larissa Mahdyuk outlined the general situation of gender equality in Ukraine, stressed inconsistency of government’s actions primarily caused by the lack of political will. According to Ms. Mahdyuk, liquidation of the Ministry for Family, Youth and Sport through public administration reform did not affect the activities of those who really care about gender equality problem, particularly the gender experts of the CIDA projects. They continue advocating equal rights for men and women and implementing various measures to achieve gender equality.

According to Ms. Cherniavska, public administration reform has essentially destroyed the mechanism of equal rights and opportunities for women and men existing in the state, as reorganization of the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports, which was responsible for implementing gender policy in Ukraine has suspended the development of important legislation, particularly the Law “On Approving National Target Social Programs to Ensure Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men by 2015”, introduction of political, legal and organizational measures to ensure a balanced involvement of women and men in management.

It was emphasized that in this difficult environment these are the local governments and particularly self-government bodies who should take the initiative and intensify implementation of concrete measures to ensure equal rights of men and women.

Priority objectives were identified as follows:

  • The need to establish and strengthen ties with civil society organizations - to use their experience and potential for gender mainstreaming, and, equally important to strengthen the creative and organizational capacity of the actual local authorities;
  • Implementation of measures aimed at working with the youth, since these are young girls and boys with developed gender consciousness who will be able to defend their right to equal participation in the future, monitor government activities, initiate changes in legislation and public life.

Ms. Chernyavska also emphasized on the need to support family business because the family businesses virtually contributes to gender equality, promotes harmonization of family life and economic development of towns and villages, so the local governments’ strategic economic development plans should include measures to support family business (lending, education, tax benefits) resulting in promotion of gender equality.

Serhiy Kotenko supported the position that regional and municipal development programs should include gender components, described cooperation with state administrations, informed on involvement in projects of researches that analyze the gender equality situation in the areas, develop special programs, in particular, to support small business that promotes equal rights for women and men in economic sphere.

The researches, present at the meeting, Irina Kyianka (Lviv) and Oleksandr Rudik (Dnipropetrovsk) reported on their cooperation with the Project and the state administrations on implementing gender mainstreaming. Irina Kyianka, in particular, spoke about establishing of Gender Resource Center and Gender Council under the Lviv Oblast State Administration.

The tools of integrating gender equality into technical cooperation projects were explained by Larisa Mahdyuk, GE expert. In her speech, Ms. Mahdyk repeatedly stressed the importance of an integrated gender approach, emphasized the value of assessing the impact of a particular policy on women and men and described gender analysis components.

The participants shared their views on the presented information, exchanged their experience of integration of gender equality into project activities.

In her closing speech, Kati Csaba, the Head of the Cooperation Section, Canadian International Development Agency said that CIDA can not produce completely uniform guidelines, because some projects easily succeed in implementing gender mainstreaming, although for some other projects this process is more difficult. However, there are general indicators, and it is important that the projects realistically assess their capabilities, correlate ideas and plans with resources available for their implementation. Kati Csaba thanked the host Natalie Zavarzina and all the participants for their active work, and wished further success.

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