A delegation of Ukrainian women who came to the U.S. to participate in a United Nations gender equality forum met with Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) at her Capitol Hill office on March 20, 2018. The women, who are NGO activists and entrepreneurs from the Odesa, Donetsk, Cherkasy and Kyiv oblasts of Ukraine, emphasized the importance of increasing women’s participation in political decision-making and business at the regional and local level, with special emphasis on rural areas of the country. The timing of their visit was particularly fortuitous as Congresswoman Kaptur is embarking on a trip to Ukraine in her capacity as Honorary Chair of Seeds of Hope, a program aimed at empowering women farmers in Ukraine.  Rep. Kaptur encouraged the delegation from Ukraine to become engaged in making the Seeds of Hope initiative, which will introduce simple new technologies and concepts for efficient and successful farming for women engaged in small-plot agriculture in Ukraine, a success.  During the discussion, the Ukrainian women also raised the issues of the deadly threat of thousands of landmines that have been laid in agricultural lands that are now the “no-man’s land” between Ukrainian government-controlled territories and the areas of Donbas held by Russian-led separatists.

Earlier that day, the group spoke at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, where they talked about the challenges that internally displaced persons fleeing Russia’s occupation of the Donbas and Crimea face in establishing new livelihoods in other parts of Ukraine.  They also called for more foreign assistance to be targeted at training women’s NGOs and citizen advisory councils at the regional, municipal and local level.

A delegtion of Ukrainian women’s NGO leaders at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. (Photo by Adrian Karmazyn)

The delegation came to the USA to participate in the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, held March 12-23, 2018, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  The priority theme of the gathering was “Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls.”

Svitlana Salamatova, Vice President of the International Institute of Cultural  Affairs, was the coordinator of the Ukrainian delegation.  The other members of the group which came to Washington were: Natalya Deliyeva  and Olena Palashek of the Association of Women of Ukraine Dyia (Action) in Odesa; Maryna  Gurianova – Head of the Community Media Hub in Cherkasy;  Yuliya Gerzanich – Project Manager of the Association of Conflict Resolution and Social and Psychological Support “Word Aid” in   Boyarka (Kyiv region), Inna Mikhno – Member of the Association of Women of Ukraine Dyia (Action) in Kyiv; and Hanna Aladieva and Svitlana Chepelieva of the Association “Women’s Association Pani (Ladies) in Kramatorsk, Donetsk oblast. Ms. Gerzanich is an IDP from Crimea and Ms. Mikhno is an IDP from Donetsk.

In an interview with the Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service, Ms. Chepelieva discussed the delegation’s efforts to promote women’s rights and described some of the particular challenges that Ukrainian women face in achieving gender equality in society.

Photo at top of page: A delegation of Ukrainian women’s NGO leaders meets with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Nadia McConnell of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. (Photo by Adrian Karmazyn)

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