The facts of public demonstration of sexism and bullying on grounds of gender or age show the society’s (im)maturity. Whenever the bullying targets the gender and family roles at the same time, as combined with the conduct of public persons, it is a model to follow in public and in personal space.

Civil Network OPORA paid attention to an incident and we deem it appropriate to provide a public response thereto. Thus, on February, 26, 2021, a deputy of Rivne city council Zurab Kantaria published a post on his private Facebook page: “@oksana.maiboroda thattagirl;) she is presenting about the importance of green corridors in cities, with Polina on her lap,” and there he tagged a deputy Oksana Maiboroda who was speaking at a public event on the topic within the area of her activities of urban landscaping. Ms Deputy came to the event with her daughter Polina. The post was commented by over 900 users, of which many included sexist statements and bullied Oksana Maiboroda on grounds of gender, social, and political roles, such as motherhood and political activities undertaken by a woman. 

The recently introduced gender quota in Ukraine are intended to balance the representation of women and men in public authorities and in decision making. The efficient requirement for equal access of men and women to politics received a positive feedback from experts and human rights lawyers, international partners and society at large. However, the Internet platforms are still the space for hate speech and ungrounded violent attacks at women, with elements of cyberbullying.

Civil Network OPORA hereby emphasizes it unacceptable to publicly bully women and female politicians, such as on grounds of gender and motherhood, or the ways to combine their professional and family lives. The actions are the open manifestations of sexism and discrimination. They pose the real threat to democratic values and respect for dignity and human rights. 

We hereby urge local authorities and political parties to take systemic preventive and awareness-raising measures to explain the phenomenon of discrimination among the wider public, and to create an infrastructure and environment, also on the premises of public authorities, and in other public places, that would be parent- and child-friendly and enable them to enjoy their constitutional guarantees in real life.

We hereby encourage everyone to refrain from any actions or statements,  also in social media, that might include signs of sexism, bullying, or other unacceptable conduct leading to discrimination. We would like to direct the special attention of public persons and opinion leaders to the unacceptable conduct. In fact, their position is automatically supported by large audiences, thus, more dangerous.

Ban on discrimination and the equality principle are the key elements enshrined in the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine. Part 3 of Art. 24 of the Constitution of Ukraine guarantees that equality of the rights of women and men shall be ensured: women shall be provided with opportunities equal to those of men in public, political, and cultural activities, in obtaining education and vocational training, in work and remuneration therefor; by taking special measures for the protection of work and health for women; by establishing pension privileges; by creating conditions that make it possible for women to combine work and motherhood; by adopting legal protection, material and moral support of motherhood and childhood, including the provision of paid leave and other privileges to pregnant women and mothers. Article 3 of the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men” sets, inter alia, key areas of public policy in the field of “preventing discrimination on grounds of gender; applying positive actions; preventing and combatting violence on grounds of gender, also all manifestations of violence against women; ensuring equal participation of women and men in making socially significant decisions; ensuring equal opportunities for women and men to combine professional and family duties” a.o. 

The guarantees are enshrined also in international documents: The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the 1979 UN Convention on Liquidation of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Code of Good Practices in Electoral Matters adopted by the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission) in 2002; the 2000 Resolution of the UN Security Council 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security”; the 2010 Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 1706, and many others. 

Therefore, over 70 years ago, the society came to understand the importance of the parity-based inclusion of women to political and public life, efficient and opportune combination of motherhood with work and political activity.

Declaration of guarantees in the documents is not a sufficient measure. It is important to have the environment where they are not illusionary but practicable. The implementation in practice depends on multiple factors such as general and legal culture of society and overcoming stereotypes, awareness and understanding of cause-and-effect relationship, consistent government’s policy, active efforts of political parties in engaging women and their support, and, eventually, due response to cases of overt discrimination.