I have just received a term paper from Iryna Poliukhovych, an International MBA candidate from the Ukraine, studying on a joint Erasmus program in Poland and Paris, on the topic of “Feminism and Sustainable development in Ukraine”, presented for my graduate seminar on Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy – http://sustain.ecoplan.org – at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris). The report is available for review and comment at https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B41h-Am2TpUHYXBsUTlNS29kTkk. To give you a taste for the rfull eport, below you will find her comments on the history of the women’s movement in the Ukraine.
A short history of feminism in the Ukraine (Extract from report)
In Ukrainian society, women have a little different position than in other countries, feminism is associated with the bad reputation in the consciousness of ordinary citizen. In the middle of ХІХ century for the first time in Ukraine women started to talk about the unfair gender stereotypes that define their position in the society. Nevertheless, during that period, displays of feminism in Ukrainian society related mainly to the fight for independence in Ukraine and to the right of self-determination.
This struggle for independence encouraged men to reunite with the women, but for only a short time. The feminists at that time were convinced that after Ukraine will get national autonomy they would have equal rights with men. Women’s movement often interlaced with nationalism but truly, there is one common feature between them, in fact, they all were fighting for collective rights. However, on the one side women fought for their rights, and on the other side, people fought for human rights with no guarantees of gender equality.
Despite common purpose, to achieve independence, there was no opportunity for women to become more than just an assistant. In those times women mostly performed the housework that nobody paid for, men mostly worked in a factory on a production line, what led to the opinion that women depend on husband financially.
The situation changed gradually in the war period. While men were away fighting in the war for independence, women called upon to fill their workplaces. This gave them the opportunity to try out different professions and realize that they are also able to work and earn the same salary for the same job. The ambitions have grown and they no longer wanted to stay at home.
In the period of the First World War, one of the first Ukrainian women’s organization “Union of Ukrainians” started their activities. Nevertheless, their policy was first aims to self-determination of Ukrainians but not on the promoting gender equality. A certain number of women managed to gain recognition, becoming a representative of the authorities and they were a perfect example of intelligent women. However, those women were born in wealthy families, and this career was predictable for their status and there was no single aspiration to get gender equality.
The situation changed when the Soviet Union occupied Ukraine and started to promote the communist ideology, which envisaged the emancipation of women. The government conducted a massive involvement of women in paid employment, to get them out home. The legislation of the Soviet Union has ensured the principles of equality of men and women, were introduced some social guarantees, all this looked perspective enough for feminism.
Trade unions of the women had subordinated to the political leadership of the Communist parties, organized because of the imperious will of the state. Those committees created as needed to influence women in the Soviet Union. Such gender equality was essential for the establishment of Soviet society, where every person is a part of a certain team and the state in general and is responsible for its future and have not even thought to detach from this society. Those committees formed by working women with good productivity and without any ambitions.
The Soviet Union system forced all women to work and study. Mothers were in the most difficult situation since after birth, in a very short time, they had to back to work and work like everyone else. In politics, as always, dominant position exclusively belonged to men.
In independent Ukraine, everything had changed, but society thoughts about the role of the woman had not changed. For today, the most widespread are processes to eradicate domestic violence in Ukraine. However, provocative question is how women with newborns can survive if she receives such small financial help that it is inadequate even to buy enough food.
Current, Ukrainian women are passive, they still care more about Ukrainian independence and it is not a strange because the country is in the conditions of war. Ukraine provides the woman a sufficiently wide legal space that allows act as they want, but nobody uses it. There are many intelligent women in Ukraine that realized themselves by pursuing education, professional and cultural activities and occupy the important positions in the political. However, the percentage is still small, although the level of education of Ukrainian women is almost 2 times better. The main reason is the Ukrainian mentality and gender stereotypes that need to be eradicate.
In 2015, Ukraine occupied 83 positions in the list of 155 countries in accordance with Index of gender inequality. This index measures gender inequalities in three important aspects of human development as reproductive health, empowerment, and economic status.
* The report is available at https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B41h-Am2TpUHYXBsUTlNS29kTkk.
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About the author:
My name is Iryna Poliukhovych (23 years old). I am originally from Ukraine but during last 6 years, I am living and studying in Poland (Warsaw). I am an Erasmus student. I have done my bachelors degree in International Relations (Warsaw Management University) speciality Foreign Commerce. I am currently doing my master degree in Economics (Lazarski University) speciality Business in Eastern Markets. I have worked for AXA insurance company before I came to study at ISG in Paris. I speak Ukrainian, Russian and Polish fluently; English (trying to improve).