10 December, 2018 09:47

Participants of the Second Ukrainian Women's Congress discussed women’s role models in the society

On December 7-8, Kyiv hosted one of the most influential events in the field of gender policy - the Second Ukrainian Women's Congress. Among the moderators of the event were Olesya Zhulynska, Head of the PR Department of Coca-Cola Ukraine and Olga Rudneva, Director of the Elena Pinchuk Foundation.
Participants of the Second Ukrainian Women's Congress discussed women’s role models in the society / Elena Pinchuk Foundation

The Ukrainian Women's Congress has been taking place in Kyiv for the second year in a row. In 2018, the event was attended by more than 800 participants. The top state officials of Ukraine and the world, well-known politicians, diplomats, public figures and activists who deal with gender equality issues in Ukraine and abroad were among them.

Olesya Zhulynska opened the second day of the Congress. She is a PR Director of the Coca-Cola, Ukraine and a mentor of the project "I Can!", which is being implemented by Elena Pinchuk Foundation with the help of the Coca-Cola Foundation. Olesya was a moderator of the panel discussion "Specifics of national stereotypes about women and men", which was attended by the ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Lithuania and Norway.

The discussion began with Olesya’s emotional confession about her admiration of the "Suffragist" movie, devoted to the history of the women's movement at the end of the XIX century. Talking about to the film content, Olesya urged the audience not to accept the modern rights and opportunities of women for granted, but instead appreciate and honor the achievements of the founders of the feminist movement.

The Ambassadors supported Olesya’s sincerity and, in return, proudly spoke about the achievements of their countries on the path to gender equality. The Ambassadors of Sweden and the United Kingdom agreed that the key to gender equality lies in the education and upbringing of the next generation, an example of self-sufficient and independent role models for girls, responsible and conscious parenting. Diplomats from Norway and Portugal emphasized the importance and wide impact of gender equality on the processes of state-building and public administration. The Ambassadors of Lithuania, the United States and Spain described how economic and political crises could be used to empower women in society.

Finally, Olesya Zhulynska noted that Ukrainians have already passed the "point of no-return" on the path to gender equality, but there are still many challenges ahead. She also thanked the Ambassadors for the support and experience they share with Ukraine.

Olga Rudneva, Director of the Elena Pinchuk Foundation, was moderator of the final platform of the Congress - "SHEforSHE": partnership and mentoring. The dynamic discussion focused on issues of women’s support, sisterhood and solidarity.

Wanda Nowicka, President of the Polish Women's Federation, shared the experience of the women's movement in Poland and urged Ukrainian colleagues to build the foundations of sisterhood and solidarity systematically: from everyday horizontal links to higher levels of government and parliament.

Olena Frolyak, a well-known journalist and the Head of ICTV's information service, said that she expected a responsible and persistent attitude towards work from female colleagues. According to Olena, they "pull off" the complicated and exhausting journalist profession in Ukraine. Svitlana Voitsekhovska also supported the professionalism theme, recalling her experience of mentoring in the project "I Can!": "I was very surprised when I was invited to become a mentor, because I always referred to myself as a "silent politician". However, now I am ready to help all girls become politicians. So that they wouldn’t be quiet, but able to occupy positions where key decisions are made."

Iryna Danylevska, Co-founder of the Ukrainian Fashion Week, also thanked Elena Pinchuk for the invitation to participate in the project "I Can!". Iryna made the issue of mentoring even deeper by noting the following: "Mentorship is not just about qualifications. Mentorship is about everyday life, about values and priorities."

The participants also discussed the issues of domestic violence, social responsibility and the impact of women on their environment. Masha Efrosinina, a well-known TV host and Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund in Ukraine, said that more than a million Ukrainian women suffer from various types of gender-based violence each year, and the reason for it is indifference. Other members of the panel agreed that the silence and alienation of cases of domestic violence is a widespread and painful phenomenon in the Ukrainian society, and this trend needs to be changed urgently.

Summing up the discussion, Olga Rudneva thanked the discussion participants and all the women who support their colleagues in their efforts and active participation in the movement towards gender equality in Ukraine.

The "I Can!" project is designed to enable women who became famous through their successful work in politics, business, fashion, social and charity projects to share their success stories and achievements and support young women who are just beginning their journey. The project is being implemented with the assistance of the Coca-Cola Foundation.

The Ukrainian Women's Congress organized by the "Equal Opportunities" interparliamentary committee is an on-going public platform, which shapes the gender policy agenda for Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, government, private sector, civil society and media.

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