Chris’ Project “Z-Forum”

Ukraine is undergoing massive reforms right now. It’s really difficult to grasp how big of an undertaking it is given that they are also fighting an active conflict with Russia. This is also still a young country with a population that is still wrestling with what it means to live in a democracy. In order to take steps forward on these reforms, you need trained and educated leaders. A large part of the leadership of these reforms are individuals working in local government.

In partnership with our City Council, I introduced the project of a four-day training for 60 female government officials to train them on these reforms. It took two grants (one from the US Embassy and another from Peace Corps), a partnership with the National Democratic Institute, and a lot of leg work to make this training event happen.

Why provide this training only for women? It is not only about female representation in government (currently women make up about 20% of parliament), but it is also about the voice of women in government and in society. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to have an equal number of women and men represented in government if both aren’t equally esteemed. Historically, gender roles have been clearly defined for women, generally relegating them as home makers. The slogan of the forum was “successful women – successful country”, which is to say as the women of Ukraine go, so goes Ukraine (women make up over half the population of Ukraine, after all).

The training addressed the top issues reported by the Ukrainian government, most notably decentralization, anti-corruption, transparency, and gender-equality. The idea is that participants will take these trainings back to their communities to further educate and train individuals working in government. This training empowers the participants to successfully impliment the ongoing reforms, and provides them the opportunity to increase active participation in these reforms from their communities. The best is yet to come.

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