May 6, 2019
After gender studies became popular at US universities, the Soviet Union disintegrated, and Ukraine became independent, the door opened to the world´s knowledge for Ukraine’s academic community. Visionaries began to introduce new courses of study in Ukraine, and and the newly re-established Kyiv-Mohyla Academy became the bastion of innovative education.
Dr. Svitlana Oksamytna, professor of sociology, was a visionary who as a faculty member of the Department of Sociology, embraced the information and studies from the best universities in the world, and introduced the course “Introduction to Gender Studies” in the second part of 1990th , a course that has remained a requirement for a bachelor’s diploma in Sociology.
Svitlana Oksamytna, PhD, is Professor and Dean of Social Studies and Social Technologies at NaUKMA. One of the university’s most respected academics, and a prolific author, she is also a Member of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Tamara Martsenyuk was an undergraduate student at the university inspired by Professor Oksamytna to pursue her studies further. Tamara dedicated herself to research and received her PhD degree (Candidate of Sciences) in Sociology from National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” in 2009. Dr. Martsenyuk is now considered the top expert in the area of gender studies in Ukraine.
Without a doubt, Dr. Martsenyuk’s knowledge, commitment, international experience, and ability to communicate effectively, are qualities that attract a large number of students. Her class, “Introduction to Gender Studies”, has become one of the most popular courses at the university. This year’s class reached 100 students, both male and female students who signed up.
Dr. Martsenyuk conducts classes on “Introduction to Gender Studies”, “Gender and Politics”, “Masculinity and Men’s Studies”, “Feminism as a Social Theory and Social Movement”, and others. Her sphere of interests includes gender sociology, social structures of society, gender relations and gender politics, social inequality and social programs, women’s (feminist) and men’s movements; diversity.
Dr. Tamara Martsenyuk is the expert on gender issues at the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, responsible for internal organizational gender and non-discrimination policies. She is the author of the project “Women Human Rights Defenders Who Change Ukraine”.
She is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”. She is the author of approximately 100 academic publications, chapters of textbooks and chapters of books (Gender, Politics and Society in Ukraine, published in Toronto University Press in 2012). Tamara’s latest research is connected with women’s activism in Ukraine, particularly on Euromaidan protests 2013-2014, and women’s participation in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
During the twenty six years since Ukrainian independence, women have held only 12% of seats in Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Yet, women constitute forty five percent of the management force in the civil service sector, albeit mainly at the local level. Gender discrimination against women in the political sphere and women’s lack of access to power is prevalent in Ukraine. Despite Ukraine’s record as the first post-Soviet country to implement laws against human trafficking, domestic violence, and gender legislation, women are underrepresented in the political sphere.
Ukraine continues to conduct international projects supporting gender equality, yet places low on the list of countries promoting political and gender equality for women. According to Martsenyuk, very little is implemented either legislatively or programmatically in terms of tangible policies regarding women. There is a lack of government accountability and lack of sanctions for violation of legislation.
But there is a new awareness of the role of women in society, on the role of men in families, relationships, diversity, sexual conflicts, and how society is affected by these issues.
Much progress has been made in this area. The European Union supported the program “Women and Children’s rights in Ukraine”, through technical assistance. Working with the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sport, and other ministries and civil society actors, the programme consisted of five projects run by international donors including the International Labour Organisation, Council of Europe, United Nations Development Programme and United National Children’s Fund’s and Safege company. Among the issues covered by the programme were domestic violence, child protection and gender equality at work.
At the same time, the women’s lobby in Ukraine witnessed some visible changes to its organizational forms since 2012. Large campaigns to empower women started a couple of years ago, for example, by National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Ukrainian Women’s Fund and others. In 2011 the Equal Opportunities Inter-Factional Union (Caucus) was first formed. The establishment of the Caucus is aimed at improving the status of women in society and equal participation of women and men in governance. Since 2012, the Equal Opportunities Caucus registered a series of common draft laws designed to combat domestic violence, ensure equal salary for men and women, fair pension reform and equal rights and opportunities for men and women in the electoral process. What is very important, its members supported and lobbied the “gender quota” in 2015.
National changes begin with work at the societal level, and education plays a key role in building consensus and understanding of the issues. Kyiv-Mohyla Academy has played a key role in this process.