20 union female activists from IndustriALL Ukrainian affiliates hold their first meeting of the women network in Chernigov to discuss challenges faced by women at their workplaces and adopt the action plan.
The first IndustriALL Global Union workshop on gender issues took place on 30 November - 1 December in Chernigov, Ukraine. The participants of the workshop were Ukrainian activists responsible for their respective unions’ structures promoting gender equality issues.
Participants articulated how the society imposes different behaviour and different roles to boys and girls from their birth. Women shared examples from their childhood, when they were criticized for the leadership behaviour. They were often advised “Behave like a girl!”, meaning a non-challenging, soft and obedient behaviour, and were pushed back. The same situation remains typical in the adults’ world. Majority of men on the leading positions in the Ukrainian society believe that women have far less leadership ambitions. Therefore, even if a woman seeks a leadership position, she has little chance to get it.
In addition to their main occupation, women are supposed to run the household and raise children, which in reality becomes their "second shift". In fact, it is the most important limiting factor for women to reach the leadership positions. In the same time irregular working hours, negatively affect the children and family.
Participants confirmed that sexual harassment is a serious problem in Ukraine as well as domestic violence. On 7 December, the Ukrainian parliament Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law on combating domestic violence. However, it can share the destiny lots of other laws and conventions adopted by the government which remain declarative.
The average salary among women is 80 per cent of men's average salary. Women are not represented in the 20 per cent of public administration bodies. Only 18 per cent of deputies in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are women.
Vadim Borisov, regional secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, told about the strong position of the international trade union movement and the IndustriALL’s Executive Committee resolution on violence and harassment against women in the workplace. Every affiliate is urged to take the IndustriALL’s pledge “Violence and harassment against women: NOT IN OUR WORKPLACE, NOT IN OUR UNION”.
In conclusion, the participants agreed on the topics for the following seminars, for instance, ways and methods of overcoming discrimination in Ukraine, promotion of gender equality, conflict resolution, women participation in trade unions, increase of self-esteem and confidence. A special group on Facebook was set up for further communication. It is the first step towards building a women network in Ukraine.
Vadim Borisov states,
“This workshop is a beginning of the IndustriALL gender activity in Ukraine and the very first module in series of workshops and trainings that will be held in forthcoming years. Based on the decisions of the Executive Committee meeting in November 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka we’ll implement IndustriALL gender policy in our region. We also consider possibility to hold a gender conference before the sub-regional meeting in 2018.”