Promoting women’s political participation in Ukraine ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year was the focus of a roundtable discussion organized in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on 31 May 2012, by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and partners.
The conference brought together members of parliament, political party leaders, representatives of civil society and advocates for gender equality from Ukraine and the broader OSCE region to discuss good practices for advancing women’s participation in elections, with a focus on the role of women candidates and women voters.
“Political parties have a special role and responsibility in representing women’s interests and promoting women’s participation in political life,” said Marcin Walecki, the Chief of ODIHR’s Democratic Governance Unit. “The best start is for political parties to promote more women, both as electoral candidates and as decision-makers.”
ODIHR also presented Gender Equality in Elected Office: A Six-Step Action Plan, a document which identifies trends in women’s political participation in the OSCE region, and proposes concrete strategies for enhancing women’s representation and influence in public life.
Yulia Kovalevska MP, of the Party of Regions, observed: “Women’s political participation is essential to the health of Ukraine’s democracy, as for any other democracy.” Olena Kondratyuk MP, of the Batkivshchyna bloc noted that currently only eight percent of the Members of Verkhovna Rada are women.
“We are confident that, with a renewed effort by political parties to promote women as candidates in Ukraine’s upcoming elections, women’s representation in parliament will improve significantly,” said MP Iryna Gerashchenko of the Our Ukraine–People’s Self-Defence Bloc.
The conference was organized by ODIHR, in co-operation with the National Democratic Institute, the Canadian International Development Agency, and the Equal Opportunities Caucus of the Ukrainian parliament. The event was part of ODIHR’s work providing expertise to OSCE participating States in advancing gender equality and women’s political participation.