On June 21, two regional leaders from International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) were elected to the national parliament. Maria Mezentseva serves as WDN Ukraine Eastern Regional Coordinator and Oksana Savchuk serves as WDN Ukraine Western Regional Coordinator. Mezentseva will represent the Servant of the People party while Savchuk will represent the Freedom (Svoboda) party in the new convocation of the Rada. In total eight WDN members, who are also local elected officials in their communities ran for the national parliament in July.
Maria Mezentseva, WDN Ukraine Eastern Region Coordinator, and now a former deputy of Kharkiv city council for the past five years as a municipal deputy and WDN member she was actively promoting ideas of gender equality and women political participation in Ukraine. “We have already worked on the development of a women’s wing inside the party at both the regional and national level, and now I am planning to join the inter-fractional Equal Opportunities Caucus to continue building bridges of cooperation with women deputies from other political parties in parliament,” said Mezentseva in a recent interview following her election.
Oksana Savchuk WDN’s Ukraine Western Regional Coordinator had previously been elected twice to the Ivano-Frankivsk city council and most recently served as secretary of the city council. In her position, she was actively supporting democratic initiatives and organized a “Women’s Health Month” in Ivano-Frankivsk. Savchuk plans to continue her active work as WDN regional coordinator while serving in parliament. She advocates the creation of an effective working group in parliament that will defend the interests of gender equality and female political participation.
The recent election in Ukraine saw a new record of women elected to Parliament, with 86 female deputies compared to 53 in the previous parliament. This means that Ukraine’s parliament now consists of 20 percent of women. Generally, it is possible to observe a clear tendency towards women participation in Ukrainian politics and civic life. All political parties have female party members and deputies in both local and country levels. In 2019 Parliament, 32 women candidates were members of the pro-presidential party Servant of the People; Nine from European Solidarity; Eight from Voice; Five from Bativshchyna and five from Opposition Platform. In addition, 26 women were elected to parliament from single-mandate districts. This represents an eight percent increase from the previous parliament and a 17 percent increase from the first parliament elected in independent Ukraine in 1991. The fact that WDN’s West and East region coordinators, hailing from both opposition and governing parties became members of parliament demonstrates the opportunities for women who actively engage in the political process in Ukraine, regardless of regional and ideological differences across the country.
The International Republican Institute continues to promote the active participation of women in civic and political life through the Women’s Democracy Network. With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED). This support helps IRI and WDN in their efforts to advance meaningful gender issues in parliament and to recruit and train more women to run for office.