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Recent Parliamentary elections show new wave of female politicians in Ukraine

Recent Parliamentary elections show new wave of female politicians in Ukraine
Article by: Anastasia Moskvychova
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Kyiv – Compared to the previous elections, this time 4% more women on average ran for the Verkhovna Rada. This was the conclusion drawn by the experts from the Gender Monitoring of the 2014 Parliamentary Elections project. According to their data, the candidates have “become younger” and more public. At the same time, experts note that the 30% quota for female representatives is met only technically by most parties, and women end up “in the rear” of the lists. 

A forty-year-old woman with a university diploma and no official job – such is the average majority candidate, says Svitlana Harashchenko from the Kirovohrad-based civil organization Kolo, who participated in the gender monitoring project of the current Verkhovna Rada elections.

“We have the youngest candidates, we have two – they were born in ’93, and the oldest candidate – she was born in ’44. Overall, a significant age decrease has been observed among the candidates,” she notes.

According to the expert, compared to the previous parliamentary elections, the number of women with high school and technical education has grown – about 10% of all female candidates. In terms of profession, most female candidates quality as unemployed, female entrepreneurs are in second place, students and female soldiers have been represented for the first time, adds Harashchenko. According to her, the biggest number of female majority candidates came from Luhansk (60) and Odesa (54) oblasts, the smallest – in Zakarpattya (4) and Chernivtsi (5) oblasts.

The overall number of female candidates has increased: 4% more in party lists and 2% more among single-mandate districts, says head of the Volyn-based civil organization Gender Center Oksana Yarosh. At the same time, according to her, the law on political parties states that there should be no less than 30% of women in the lists, however frequently this norm is only technically met, and women end up in the obviously non-passing part of the list.

“Our parliament never had more than 10% female representatives. We hope that when the CEC has final majority results, this number will increase. Not by much, but a little. Which is why we have such a moderately optimistic prognosis,” she says.

International observers also noted a small number of women who ran on single-mandate districts. In particular, head of the OSCE Human Rights Bureau mission Tana de Zulueta, noted: “The inclusion of a big number of women in the ‘passing’ part of the list could testify to a more balanced representation, but this does not regard majority districts. There are few female candidates there, and we are yet to see how many are elected.”

Fesenko: a different quality of female politicians in the Verkhovna Rada 

These elections to the Verkhovna Rada showed that a ‘new wave’ of female politicians appeared in Ukraine. Among the parties which already surpass the 5-percent barrier there are two whose lists are headed by women, notes political expert Volodymyr Fesenko.

“Before we had individual successful leading women, first and foremost, Yulia Tymoshenko, but there were other influential personae: Bohatyryova, Hanna Herman. However, a young wave of women appeared now, a new wave of female politicians. I think this has to do with the change of political generations, and more active participation on part of the women themselves. They are also very noticeable in the expert community: Svetlana Zalishchuk, Anna Hopko etc.,” he notes.

According to the Ukrainian Statistics Service, as of September last year there were 24,4 million women and 20,9 million men in Ukraine. At the same time, there were only 9,4% of women in the seventh Verkhovna Rada.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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