Ukraine is on track with the EU in terms of gender equality. This was stated by Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, during a special panel “Women’s Leadership: Political, Economic and Social Challenges and Prospects in the Process of Ukraine’s Accession to the EU” at the Seventh Ukrainian Women’s Congress. EU Ambassador to Ukraine Katarina Mathernova also took part in the discussion.
“The set of issues related to gender equality has not been highlighted in the European Commission’s recommendations as a problematic issue in which there is no certainty regarding Ukraine. This is a recognition that we are moving on a par with EU countries, that Ukraine is not lagging behind in the overall democratic development of states. Although some other countries have it on their list of fundamental changes to be implemented,” Olha Stefanishyna said.
She stressed that although Ukraine was not included in the EU’s global assessment of the gender equality index, it could definitely qualify as a candidate country.
“It is important to have a detailed official assessment of our entire movement in the field of gender equality at the level of other EU countries. We need to promote proactive policies and ensure the presence of women at all levels. For example, when there is a significant representation of women in government, it is a completely different format of decision-making, a more exclusive vision".
The Deputy Prime Minister noted that the state had been setting high standards for the implementation of gender equality policies for many years and stressed that the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, for example, was a step towards European values. She also noted that gender policy and inclusiveness were currently cross-cutting priorities at all levels of government in the context of reconstruction, green transformation, development of European integration potential and the formation of the NATO-Ukraine programme.
Olha Stefanishyna stressed that since the beginning of the full-scale war, the focus of the state’s gender policy had shifted significantly, in particular to projects responding to the heinous crimes committed by the russian military.
“Despite the growing challenges since the start of the full-scale war, we as a government were able to respond quickly because we had built up state systems over the years. We had a system to combat domestic violence, a large network of shelters and social services in the regions. What we invested in this system on a daily basis allowed us to show resilience and provide people with the support they needed during the war. In particular, we managed to create a system of relief centres as quickly as possible,” said Olha Stefanishyna.
Speaking about priorities, the Deputy Prime Minister noted the importance of adopting a law introducing the concept of war-related sexual violence and responsibility for this crime into the legal framework. She also stressed the importance of establishing a system of transitional reparations and laying the necessary groundwork for the russian federation’s responsibility to be irreversible.
“There is a huge demand for justice and I believe that the adoption of this legislation will be the first important step towards it. This is our political duty to every woman and man whose cases of abuse we know about,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.