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Gender Equality Workshop for Executive Directors of Regional Branches of the AUC

A gender equality workshop for executive directors of regional branches of the Association of Ukrainian Cities took place on its premises on March 1, 2012; it was attended by 25 people (8 women, 17 men).

The trainees discussed the situation around the assurance of the gender equality in the fields of politics and economy in Ukraine, reconciled statistical indicators on the level of the economic activity of women, their salaries, their representation at high-level positions, among members of the Parliament, in local authorities, and the targets to be met by Ukraine by 2015 as a result of signing of the declaration of Millennium Development Goals, which include the assurance of the gender ratio (ranging from 30 to 70%) in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, among members of local councils, the top-level state officers in representative state authorities, and at the highest levels of the executive branch, and the cutting of the women/men income gap by half.

The reasons for the unequal access of women and men to economic resources, top-level posts and the participation in political decision making were identified during the discussion. The entrenched prejudices and stereotypes on the calling of women and men, and their place in the society were identified as one of the major barriers on the path toward the women participation and empowerment.

Executive directors of the AUC analysed examples of gender role stereotypes related to the acceptability of specific roles and activities for men and women, their psychological and behavioural features, and identified ways of overcoming them.

Various interactive exercises made it possible to compare the perception of gender-related issues by women and men and, eventually, strengthen everyone in thinking that the assurance of the gender equality is extremely important for both sexes, and that the equality can only attained by means of the partnership among women and men, and that gender stereotypes are a factor that limits equal access and authority distribution in politics and economy.

The emphasis in the course of the comparison of indicators of the women's involvement into politics in Ukraine and other countries, such as Canada, Belgium, France and Finland, was made on various methods used by civilised states to attain the parity representation of men and women at the top rungs of the government, including the application of special measures referred to as "affirmative action" in the Law of Ukraine "On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men" aimed at "eliminating the lack of balance between the opportunities for women and men in the exercise of the equal rights vested in them by the Constitution of Ukraine and laws of Ukraine".

Executive directors expressed their opinions on the application of a specific type of quotas in Ukraine either in the form of a specific percentage of parliamentary seats guaranteed by law, or female quotas in party tickets that can either be prescribed by law or set by parties themselves.

The issue of the women representation in the management of the Association was discussed as well. The objective reasons for the absence of women in the Management Board of the Association were identified; possible steps for balancing the situation were suggested, including the more active promotion of female mayors and, on the other hand, the more active civic stance of women themselves, the improvement of their leadership qualities and, for instance, the rhetorical skills.

In spite of the diversity of views and stances, the workshop participants agreed that the issue of the parity representation is important for Ukraine and requires, first of all, the political will and the balanced systemic approach for the efficient implementation of various comprehensive programmes.

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