Women in Ukrainian Politics
The more general measures of women’s equality, such as the Gender Equality Index, published by Social Watch, present an equally gloomy picture of the role of women in Ukraine. This index takes into account the ratio of male to female students at all levels of the education system, salary and unemployment levels, as well as the proportion of women among highly trained professionals, in upper management, and in political institutions. Altogether, 154 countries are listed in this ranking. The top of the list is occupied solidly by Nordic countries: Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark. The countries at the bottom of the ranking include Niger, Chad, Yemen, and Afghanistan. United States is ranked at number 50, while Russia comes in at the 31st spot. Ukraine’s ranking at 64th place puts it between Peru and Belize. As can be seen from the graph above, representing the proportion of women at different levels of government in Ukraine (from left to right: village, city, district, region, Parliament), the higher the level of government, the less well are women represented. A recent article in NikVesti blames the under-representation of women on the need for women to balance career and family. According to the author, “not all among even the most ambitious women are prepared to sacrifice their personal and family lives for politics and serving the society at large”. The only woman who reached the top of Ukraine’s political ladder is the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Though Ukrainian women are under-represented in the country’s parliament, the first female minister has joined the Ukrainian cabinet in February, two years since the present cabinet was first formed. President Viktor Yanukovich has named Raisa Bogatyreva as the next Minister of Healthcare, replacing a man, Alexander Anischenko, who served for less than a year. Ms. Bogatyreva is not just a woman, but a gynecologist; according to Zn.ua, she personally asked the president to be appointed to this post, “so I can do what I know, what I love”, she said. She is expected to spearhead the country’s much-needed comprehensive healthcare reform. According to the former minister Anischenko, Ukraine is currently experiencing a shortage of some 50,000 doctors; emergency services are practically non-existent; and outpatient clinics are severely under-funded.
Update: Two recent articles in The Economist discuss two additional measures of women’s place in society around the world: Women’s economic opportunity index (the U.S. is in 14th place, but 2% down from last year) and women’s views on domestic violence (in Ukraine, less than 10% of women think that under any circumstances a husband is justified in hitting his wife).
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