What shall be a general strategy to support women's participation in the election process? What can guarantee the exercise of their rights, such as electoral rights, in terms of challenges caused by the military aggression? How to provide for equal opportunities in political processes for all citizens of Ukraine? How to stimulate the participation of women in political processes and ensure full-fledged and all-rounded engagement and equal representation on all levels of government? These questions were discussed during the round table on "Ensuring Engagement of Women Into Political Processes in Ukraine" on May, 20 in Kyiv. 

Accroding to the Head of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the Organization of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development, and Urban Planning, a Member of Parliament, Olena Shuliak, the topic proposed for the round table is highly pertinent as almost all political parties represented in the Parliament have been invited to attend. 

“We realize that during the first post-war elections, we will need to invest much effort to retain our women who are actively engaged in political life and directly in the election process. That is why we really wanted to make sure that all achievements supporting gender quota were presented on the legislative level,” she said. At the same time, the speaker emphasized that the “Engagement of women into political processes in Ukraine is not merely a necessity but a step towards actual equality. After all, it is a test for society to see how far it can change and reject any forms of discrimination. Furthermore, in terms of our EU aspirations, it is also about meeting certain requirements of our integration into the EU. Today, we have no division between “female” and “male” activities. For example, dozens of thousands of women serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine today and defend our country. The hard times have triggered the process of breaking the stereotypes. For, it is one thing to require equality, and it is another thing when this equality is the imperative of our time. Our task is to break the stereotypical and discriminatory phenomena, to support and protect women's rights, and also to empower their full-fledged political participation.”

Deputy Head of the Central Election Commission, Vitalii Plukar, confirmed: “The generally recognized international practices which also cover the gender component shall be implemented into the country's political life. Today's discussions will contribute to a positive assessment of our movement towards European integration.” According to him, it is still relevant to talk about the residency criteria and following the gender quota: "A huge number of our citizens exceeded the 90 days term of staying out of the country. Therefore, according to the acting law, they may face problems with participation in future elections.” Plukar said that it is not enough to talk about solutions to the problem on the legislative level only; we must focus on the information campaigns and awareness raising that would help engage women in political processes in Ukraine. 

“The question is not only how many citizens [abroad] declare their desire to return to Ukraine (and we understand that the vast majority of these citizens are female), but also whether we can offer them participation in the political life of Ukraine, even in the current period of uncertainty. Unfortunately, this period can last for years. Thus, the active phase of the war and the legal regime of martial law will continue, people will stay abroad for a longer time, and they will be settling down deeper. The question is whether Ukraine has a vision of how to shape a geopolitical nation. Such a nation should provide for certain forms of implementation of participation and political instruments, ”said OPORA's Chair of the Board, Olga Aivazovska, during the discussion. 

“Potential women participants in the election process who currently live abroad need legal certainty. Our goal is to assist the state in policy-making on the issue of Ukrainian citizens staying out of the country. If this policy is developed with the engagement of civil society, the parliament, and the executive branch of government, it will have a chance to be implemented," Aivazovska concluded. — I believe that we need a quota in the lists of political parties for those who will be in charge of this policy. Whether this is a quota in the protected part of the list or the initiative of the party itself to determine the person responsible for this policy is an open question. ” 

Olga Aivazovska also said that OPORA had started in-depth discussions with our citizens abroad and planned to hold them in 8 countries: "First, we tried to hold them on the Lithuanian case. We asked our citizens about the challenges associated with staying abroad and the challenges associated with returning to Ukraine. A state of “neither here nor there” does not create the conditions for planning but political participation could create these conditions. There are public and political leaders who invest a huge amount of intellectual capital in solving everyday political and psychological problems of our citizens abroad. If they do it now, without the support of the Ukrainian state and with little support from the host country or international organizations, are they political leaders? Yes, they are, because they shape local policy focusing on our citizens out of the country and their families in specific communities. They deal with local legislation, and enagge communication channels not through shelters and access to basic resources but rather by developing public policy for this target audience in this country. These people mostly did not have any such experience while living in Ukraine. And such people need social and political lifts. ” 

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Chair of the Subcommittee on Elections, Referendums and Other Forms of Direct Democracy, Alina Zahoruiko, said: "At one time, 5 years ago, the parliament made a kind of revolution and introduced gender quotas in parliamentary elections and local elections. However, the issue of women's participation in politics includes many aspects, and quotas are only part of the solution. In addition, the full-scale invasion brought new challenges for women. This includes internal displacement, forced migration, and service in the Defense Forces. Obviously, Ukrainian women are an example of strength, resilience and courage, so we must ensure conditions for their full political participation. "

CEC member Viktoriia Hlushchenko said that, taking into account the practice of holding parliamentary and local elections in Ukraine without any strict effective sanctions, political parties usually do not actively involve women in their electoral lists: "The low presence of women in previous convocations of the parliament is not only due to the reluctance of women to run or the reluctance of voters to vote for women candidates but also because political parties did not nominate enough women candidates for people's deputies."

The event was held by the Committee on the Organization of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning on May 20 in Kyiv with the assistance of the All-Ukrainian NGO "Civil Network OPORA", the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Ukraine and the Council of Europe Project "Support to Democratic Post-War Elections in Ukraine", in cooperation with the Central Election Commission.