Ukrainian and European politicians and experts discuss current trends in the development of national gender equality mechanisms

Oct 25, 2011

Within the framework of the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the 2-day International Conference on the Current Trends of Development of National Gender Mechanisms in European Countries has begun its work. The conference took place in Kyiv, at the Ukrainian House National Business and Cultural Cooperation Centre. It was co-organised by the United Nations Development Programme and the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.

During the official opening ceremony participants were welcomed by Mr. Serhii Tihipko, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, as well as Mr. Mykola Tomenko who is the People’s Deputy of Ukraine and the Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Also there to greet participants were Ms. Tatiana Parvu, Ambassador, and Moldova’s Permanent Representative to the CoE Committee of Ministers and Thematic Co-ordinator on Gender Equality and Trafficking of the CoE Committee of Ministers; Ms. Maria Juriková who is Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine; Ms. Elena Panova in her role as Acting Country Director of the UNDP Ukraine; Ms. Nina Karpachova, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; Mr. Ihor Sahach, Ambassador at Large, Secretary of the Organising Committee for the preparation and implementation of activities related to the Ukrainian Chairmanship in the CoE Committee of Ministers; and Mr. Ravil Safiullin, Head of the State Service for Youth and Sports of Ukraine.

The speakers emphasised the importance and urgency of implementing national gender equality mechanisms for the sake of the development of democracy.  They also advocated for the empowerment of women in decision-making. The speakers said that European countries’ experience had proven that, even with proper legislation in place, only provision of relevant state tools can be a necessary pledge of achieving real gender equality. Therefore, in their welcome speeches the conference organisers urged experts and conference attendees to work actively during the two days to elaborate, through the sharing of experience, recommendations for the application of the best practices that had positive outcomes in European countries.

Mr. Serhii Tihipko pointed out in his speech that because the Ukraine has declared its course toward European integration, gender equality matters – being an EU priority - were becoming especially important to the Ukranian nation.

Ms. Elena Panova stated that because of the conference Ukraine had accumulated considerable institutional memory, experience, knowledge and information in the field of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men. “We expect the conference to enable the countries having great experience in upholding the gender equality ideas to act as motivators and encourage Ukraine to make a big step towards gender equality,” said the UN Development Programme representative.

Ms. Maria Juriková is sure that developing efficient national institutions and addressing the most important social problems is impossible without taking gender prospects into consideration. Public authorities are not able to provide high-quality services to citizens without thinking of specific gender needs.

The conference also received a video message from Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, who reiterated in her speech that the countries paying proper attention to gender equality issues had a more sustainable and competitive economy. That fact is confirmed by surveys conducted in 114 countries.

In the course of the interactive discussion on necessary conditions for efficient operation of national gender equality mechanisms, experts drew attention to several specific details. These issues included gender equality, women’s representation in national parliaments, positive actions and quotas, the equality ombudsperson institution, and the proper functioning of public authorities responsible for gender equality. Also mentioned were the application of gender budgeting, the role of non-governmental organisations, and the role of men in ensuring and promoting gender equality.

Representatives of Spain, Turkey, Moldova, Poland, Greece, France, Sweden, Serbia, Ireland, Slovenia, Croatia, Portugal, Austria, Norway, and Ukraine shared their national experience in gender equality implementation.

Subsequent work of the conference participants was implemented in the section format for the following topics:

– national action plans for achieving gender equality and gender mainstreaming in state policy and development programmes;

– enhancement of women’s roles in decision-making; positive actions and quotas;

– gender budget initiatives - experience and implementation opportunities;

– international commitments on achieving gender equality; the status of implementation of the Action Plan and Resolution of the 7th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for equality between women and men;

– the role of parliaments and ombudspersons in ensuring gender equality;

– partners between public authorities and non-governmental organisations in development and implementation of gender policy;

– the role of mass media in disseminating gender equality information.

Based on the international conference outcome, experts drafted recommendations for the member states.

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