Tymoshenko and Odarchenko: Women’s Solidarity in Ukrainian Politics

Ukraine can hardly be included in the list of states where women’s rights and opportunities are openly discriminated against. There are not many norms in Ukrainian legislation that limit people’s rights based on gender. But, nevertheless, one cannot claim that there is no problem of inequality between men and women in Ukraine. In the 21st century, there are still problems of gender equality both in everyday life and in politics in Ukraine.

Gender Drawdown in Politics – Cultural Stigma or Social Construct?
According to a sociological survey conducted by Razumkov Centre in March 2020, 83% of Ukrainian citizens believe that the most important task of a woman is to take care of the home and family. 75% of respondents are convinced that the main task of men is to earn money, and 78% believe that women are more often guided by emotions when making decisions than men.

Perhaps that is why Ukraine ranks 156th in terms of women’s representation in parliament and has one of the lowest indicators of the number of women in government. Despite the fact that women make up 54% of the Ukrainian population, they make up only 20.8% of parliamentarians (88 out of 423), which is very far from even the global figure of 27%. At the local government level, it is even more dramatic. There are no female mayors in regional centers at all, and their participation in the judiciary also remains insignificant.

Yulia Tymoshenko as a Political Phenomenon in Ukraine.
But after the Revolution of Dignity, there are still positive trends, for example, in the executive and judicial branches. Thus in 2014, for the first time in the history of modern Ukraine, the National Bank was headed by Valeriia Hontareva, Nataliia Yaresko headed the Ministry of Finance, and today, the Chief Prosecutor of Ukraine is also a woman – Iryna Venedyktova. However, the situation in the legislative branch is completely different and the only strong political figure that allows at least mentioning women’s representation in Ukrainian politics is certainly the head of Batkivshchyna party Yulia Tymoshenko. The deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of 6 convocations, the first and so far, only female Prime Minister in the history of Ukraine. In 2004, Tymoshenko was one of the main organizers and leaders of the Orange Revolution, and in 2005 became the third most influential woman in the world according to Forbes magazine.

However, the presence of Tymoshenko as a political leader, with her own position, a real party and support in society, is rather an exception in Ukraine. Therefore, it is very interesting to see what new female figures emerge in politics.

Kateryna Odarchenko: the Policy of Active Action in Action

For example, a year ago, Kateryna Odarchenko, one of the recognized experts in the field of Public Administration and GR in Ukraine, announced the transition to active political action in the democratic European tradition. Together with other specialists from various fields, she founded Natsionalna Platforma (National Platform) party. And from the very first steps of its existence, experts stated that a strong political structure of a new type had appeared in Ukraine. Odarchenko abandoned the standard oligarchic principle of budgeting for Ukraine and organized broad civil representation and horizontal financing. Even the registration of Natsionalna Platforma party was under close media attention, because Odarchenko refused to give the usual for Ukraine bribes in the Ministry of Justice and publicly announced the extortion of dirty officials.

Today, Odarchenko is already running for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in her native Kherson region (which is in the south of Ukraine on the border with Crimea) and she is campaigning transparently and with the maximum involvement of local communities. Unlike political opponents who use dirty methods of bribery or administrative pressure, she raised a wave of public resistance against the closure of schools and hospitals in rural areas and has already collected more than 25 thousand signatures of local residents under an appeal to the Government. Moreover, she appealed to all parliamentary forces to abandon political fights and together help the region overcome the crisis.

What is the basis for the Women’s Political Union in Ukraine?

Interestingly, one of the first to respond to the call of the leader of the extra-parliamentary party Odarchenko was Yulia Tymoshenko, who, as the head of the parliamentary faction, addressed the Cabinet of Ministers and fellow deputies with proposals to overcome the crisis. Ukrainian journalists immediately called it ” Political women’s solidarity”, and Ukrainian experts, who usually say “In Ukrainian politics, it is the presence of leadership qualities, not gender differences, that matters”, thought about forming new political unions based on gender.

Because Tymoshenko herself notes: “The world has long had rules that discriminated against women, particularly regarding their access to political participation. Now it is time to give way to women, correct this historical bias and not to wait for it to happen evolutionarily,” says Yulia Tymoshenko. “It is important that in life we are not alone with our ideas, with our social struggle. It is important to be among people who understand, love, share views and never leave you alone with the problems.”

From the ideological point of view, it is also interesting that both parties led by women are focused on supporting social protection, and focus on economic development and democratic principles of society formation. And Odarchenko’s stated anthropocentrism in the formation of state policy, and the activation of direct democracy, as a tactic of the party action of National Platforma party, directly correlates with Tymoshenko ‘s passionarity.

Kateryna Odarchenko is the Response to the Gender Political Inquiry.
So now we can state that the demand for greater representation of women in Ukrainian politics, formed in the civil space of the country, has recently received a significant response. After all, today in Ukraine there are finally not only individual women who are increasingly playing the role of filling gender quotas in men’s parties, but also political formations of national scale, successfully led by female politicians.