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A Letter to Mrs. Helen Clark

Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Chair of the United Nations Development Group visited Ukraine from December 11-15. This is the first official visit of a UNDP Administrator to Ukraine.

Helen Clark was in Kiev to meet with Ukraine’s government officials to discuss UNDP’s support to the country in overcoming economic, social and political challenges, and progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Below there is the letter submitted to H.Clark by Ukrainian Women's Organizations

Honorable Mrs. Helen Clark!

Women's public organizations in Ukraine take this opportunity to address you and to acknowledge our great respect to you as a famous world leader, the Head of the United Nations Development Group, Administrator of UNDP and former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

For us meeting you is both a big honor and a great chance to use the authority of the most prestigious international organization in the world, the United Nations Organization, in order to improve the current situation of gender equality in Ukraine which is rather tragic in some places.

A stable degradation of the status of women in the Ukrainian society from the beginning of 1990s has been already attracting the attention of the leaders of women's organizations, national and international gender experts for a long time. Taking this into consideration, with the participation and partly under the pressure of the national women's organizations, the Ukrainian government, starting from the creation under the President of Ukraine of the Committee on Women, Mothers, and Children with the appropriate functions in 1995, began to form a specialized mechanism of governing gender processes which should develop and implement national gender policy.

However, nowadays a thorny path of successes and failures in this area has reached its end.

As a result of the Presidential Decree on administrative reform which has been recently ratified (December 11, 2010), the Ministry of Ukraine for Family, Youth and Sports, whose competence was to develop and implement the national gender policy during 1995 – 2010, was liquidated

The National machinery for ensuring gender equality, which has been step by step built by the Ukrainian community in cooperation with the state authorities, by this Decree was destroyed.

Taking into account your high status, we, representatives of Ukrainian community organizations who are engaged in the problems of gender equality, would ask you to fulfill the role of counsel of the highest level before our Government and put to it our needs. In particular:

I.        Ukraine desperately needs a central authority of executive power, specifically authorized to provide equal rights and opportunities for women and men (a separate Ministry or State Committee for implementation the national gender policy).

II.      It is extremely necessary to create a coordinating body under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine – the National Gender Bureau with broad, coordinating and analytic functions.

III.    It is necessary to accept a new State program for ensuring gender equality on 2011-2015, as the validity term of such previous program ends this year and all this field of difficult gender issues for Ukrainian society remains outside the government regulation.

IV.   It is required state efforts for supporting and broadening practice of appointing advisers of gender issues in the structure of legislative and executive branches.

V.     The absence of women on the positions of ministers and heads of regional administrations, the extremely low percentage of women in Parliament (7,6%) does not contribute of achieving by Ukraine the goals of gender equality, besides the MDGs. The Parliament has twice rejected the draft law on gender quotas, but without quota approach it seems impossible to decide this issue today.

VI.   Ukraine is in dire need of legislative changes in the issues of ensuring gender equality. Since the time of Law of Ukraine on equality between women and men, accepted six years ago, amendments to this law were repeatedly submitted, which stipulated a number of necessary improvements, including the gender quota. Each time the Ukrainian Parliament rejected the proposed changes. The Government prepared a regular representation and the Ukrainian community hopes a lot that at last they will be accepted.

VII. The Ukrainian community is also waiting for state steps for special support of women leaders at both national and local levels, particularly in political representation. Because of this the adoption of relevant amendments to the Election law is extremely necessary.

Big hopes of all layers of the Ukrainian society are set for implementing these fields of state gender policy.

Sincerely, representatives of public organizations of Ukraine

Consortium of Women Organizations of Ukraine
Alyekseyenko Maria

Ukrainian Women Fund
Karbovska Natalia

Institute of Liberal Society
Kiselyova Oksana

School of Equal Opportunities
Kolos Larysa

National Women Council of Ukraine/ Ukrainian Public Organization “Diya”
Kondratiuk Tetyana

International Women’s Rights Center “La Strada – Ukraine”
Levchenko Kateryna

West-Ukrainian Centre “Women's prospects”
Maksymovych Lubov

Kyiv Institute of Gender Studies
Skoryk Marfa

Ukrainian Centre of Gender Education
Stryebkova Julia

Women's Information Consultative Center
Suslova Olena

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