Gender discrimination has long been a problem in Ukraine. Domestic and sexual violence against girls and women are widespread. Women are expected to conform to outdated gender stereotypes and many have a poor understanding of their sexual and reproductive rights.
The town of Zhytomyr, in the north-west of Ukraine, ranks among the lowest nationwide in terms of salaries and jobs, according to the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe. The country’s economic crisis and the on-going war in eastern Ukraine have further added to the economic strain facing the town. In that context, women face the twin threat of gender discrimination and economic insecurity.
NGO “Parity” was founded in 2012 by four female activists with a view to developing leadership skills among young women in Ukraine. It seeks to break down gender stereotypes by involving the authorities, the media and public figures.
NGO “Parity” holds regular workshops for the girls of Zhytomyr, where they can discuss their needs and their vision for the development of their community. NGO “Parity” educates girls on family planning and sexual health as well as raise awareness about women’s rights and gender violence. Financial literacy and the development of entrepreneurial skills are key components of its work.
It works closely with educational establishments in the city of Zhytomyr and the surrounding region. It has established partnerships with state institutions and civil organisations and is part of the All-Ukrainian Coalition for Sexual Health and Family Planning, the Office of Gender Strategy and Budgeting as well as the Industrial Gender Committee on Advertising.
To date, NGO “Parity” has benefitted 4,200 people, some of whom are now working at the organisation and helping to guide the newcomers.
Photos: Anastasia Vlasova