Results of the elections in the united territorial communities of Kharkiv region: gender analysis | Center for Political Analysis “Observatory of Democracy”

Results of the elections in the united territorial communities of Kharkiv region: gender analysis

Euroreforms involve bringing to Ukraine not only European practices, but also values. Equal opportunities for self-realization of citizens and liberation from traditional stereotyped roles are one of the key values ​​for European Ukraine. Development in accordance with this direction should destroy the stereotype of politics as traditionally the “male sphere”. The Center for Political Analysis “Observatory of Democracy” conducts a gender study of the results of recent elections in the 7 united territorial communities of Kharkiv region and explores the interrelation between the reform of decentralization and equal opportunities for men and women in Ukrainian politics.

As the world moves from capitalism into the era of talentism, competitiveness on a national and on a business level will be decided more than ever before by the innovative capacity of a country or a company. In this new context, states Global Gender Gap Report 2017, the integration of women into the talent pool becomes a must. Recent estimates suggest that economic gender parity could add an additional US $250 billion to the GDP of the United Kingdom, US $1,750 billion to that of the United States, US $550 billion to Japan’s and US $310 billion to the GDP of Germany.

However, in Ukraine the problem of gender equality is steadily associated with a “threat” for traditional values. And the very concept of “gender” and “gender identification” inspires nightmares about non-traditional orientation and same-sex marriage, as evidenced by at least a prolonged process of ratification of the Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women.

As for the direct manifestation of the gender gap, Ukraine demonstrates the worst indicators of the number of men and women ratio in the sphere of political participation. According to the aforementioned Global Gender Gap Report for 2017, Ukraine ranks 103 out of 144 countries in women’s representation in the political sphere (0.107 points, where 0.0 represents complete inequality, 1.0 – full equality). Whereas the top-5 leading countries with the minimum gender gap in politics are Iceland (0.750 points), Nicaragua (0.576 points), Rwanda (0.539 points). Norway (0.530 points), Finland (0.519).

It was supposed that the introduction of the mandatory 30 % quota of representatives of the other sex in the electoral lists of parties in the Law “On Local Elections in Ukraine” of 2015 would help to correct the situation with gender imbalance in the political sphere. It should be noted that this norm does not apply to villages and towns, where elections are held by the majority system.

And although the format of local elections can be regarded as the most favorable for the election of women deputies due to the lower “price of the mandate” (in comparison with the national elections, where the record for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is representation of 11.8 % of women in the VIIIth Parliament), in 22 regional councils, according to the results of local elections in 2015, the number of women deputies was 15 %, and in city councils – 18.1 %. The highest level of representation of women was demonstrated by the Sumy Regional Council (21.9 %), and the lowest – Odessa Regional Council (9.5 %).

How is the situation with the political representation of men and women in the Kharkov region, where for more than a year the regional state administration is headed by the first woman governor in the history of the region Yulia Svetlichnaya?

In total in the Kharkov Regional Council elected in 2015 there are 23 women deputies, which is 19.2 % of the representative body. It should be noted that this is a step forward compared to the previous convocation of the regional council, in which the representation of women was at the level of 9 %.

As for the gender perspective of the results of the October elections in 7 united territorial communities, it can be argued that at such local level, political representation is much more well-balanced than at the level of the regional council and the Verkhovna Rada.

Table 1. Gender ratio among candidates for council deputies and for the post of heads of the united territorial communities

United territorial community Candidates for council deputies (%) Candidates for heads of the united territorial communities
Men Women Men Women
Zolochev 69,6 30,4 4 1
Oskol 55,7 44,3 1 1
Malinovka 62,5 37,5 3 0
Zachepilovka 54,7 45,3 2 0
Natalino 43,9 56,1 3 4
Malodanilovka 58,7 41,3 2 0
Kolomak 48,9 51,1 4 0

Subject of candidates nomination for deputies Men (%) Women (%)
BPP-Solidarity 49,4 50,6
Self-nomination 72,4 27,6
Batkivshchyna 61,5 38,5
Ukrop 56 44
Samopomich 61,6 38,4

Source: data from Territorial Election Commission

One united territorial community of seven, in which women made up the majority of candidates (both as deputies and as head of the united territorial community), was Natalino’s. It is the only one where woman was elected as the head of the community as well. Gender parity among candidates for the united territorial community deputies is also recorded in the Kolomak united territorial community. It is noteworthy that Natalino and Kolomak united territorial communities are the two smallest in terms of the number of voters, and the smallest percentage of women candidates is in the largest in terms of the number of voters united territorial community with the center in Zolochev.

Only in Zolochev and Malodanilovska united territorial communities the majority among candidates of the party of power (78 % and 58 %) were men, while in the remaining five there were more women. It is mostly connected with the active involvement of educational and healthcare workers, most of whom are women. No other party that nominated its candidates in at least half of the communities did not provide women equal representation, and among the numerous self-nominees women rate there was only 27.6 %.

Table 2. Gender ratio among elected deputies and heads of the united territorial communities

United territorial community Deputies (%) Heads
Men Women Men Women
Zolochev 79,4 20,6 1
Oskol 63,6 36,4 1
Malinovka 42,3 57,7 1
Zachepilovka 50 50 1
Natalino 40,9 59,1 1
Malodanilovka 65,3 34,7 1
Kolomak 57,7 42,3 1

Source: data from Central Election Commission

It is remarkable that the cumulative percentage of women deputies in the 7 united territorial communities coincided with the percentage of women candidates (42 %). The biggest discrepancy was recorded in Malinovska united territorial community, where female candidates were in the minority, but 15 out of 26 were elected to the community council, because most of the women-winners were nominated from the “BPP-Solidarity”, and the men who lost – from the “Agrarian Party”, which “closed” almost all the districts.

But among 7 new leaders of the united territorial communities there is a striking gender imbalance – only Violetta Borovskaya was elected from the women candidates in Natalino united territorial community. In the five united territorial communities of Kharkiv region (Starosaltovka, Chkalov, Merefa, Rogan, Novovodolaga), where the first elections were held earlier, only men became heads as well.

As already mentioned, one of the reasons for the relatively higher percentage of women in the councils of the united territorial communities (in comparison with the regional council and the Verkhovna Rada) is the professional factor. Below there are diagrams that summarize the professional background of men and women in Ukrainian politics at different levels.

Diagram 1. Spheres of professions of men deputies in the councils of 7 united territorial communities

Source: data from Central Election Commission

Diagram 2. Spheres of professions of women deputies in the councils of 7 united territorial communities

Source: data from Central Election Commission

Diagram 3. Spheres of professions of men deputies in the Kharkov regional council of VII convocation

Source: data from Central Election Commission

Diagram 4. Spheres of professions of women deputies in the Kharkov regional council of VII convocation

Source: data from Central Election Commission

In general, the results of the professional sphere analysis of men and women deputies of 7 united territorial communities of the Kharkov region, as well as of the Kharkov regional council, correspond to the worldwide trends. According to the research conducted by social network for searching and establishing business contacts LinkedIn, men are distinctively under-represented in Education and Health and Welfare, while women are strongly under-represented in Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction and Information, Communication and Technology.

As for the parliamentary level, the top-5 professions in general, which parliamentarians women and men studied in institutes, universities and academies, are the following: 72 engineers, 66 lawyers, 61 economists, 26 teachers and 22 historians.

The main professional background of women deputies of the Verkhovna Rada is the sphere of state administration. Most of the women represented in the parliament have political experience (deputies, ministry officials, advisors etc). The second key area of women “co-optation” in “big politics” is the non-commercial sector (non-governmental organizations, volunteer organizations, charitable foundations).

In the current parliament, only Olga Bogomolets represents the traditional sphere for women deputies of local councils – healthcare. Perhaps, the representative of the most “atypical” female profession in the parliament is a volunteer of the “Aidar” battalion  Nadezhda Savchenko.

Thus, there is a clear tendency of a decrease in the traditionally “female spheres” of education and health in politics, with an increase in the institutional level of councils.

Conclusions

  1. Equal opportunities for self-realization in politics for both men and women are an actual trend, corresponding to European values. It should be noted that Ukraine is moving in the same direction regarding the issue of balanced representation in political sphere. The current parliament represents the largest number of women deputies in the history of independent Ukraine – 50 (11.85 % of the total number of deputies). For example, in the first convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine there were only 13 women, and in the seventh – already 43 (9.7 % of the total number of deputies).
  2. Quantitative gender analysis confirmed the hypothesis that the percentage of women in the representative bodies and local self-government is related to the institutional level of these councils: the lower is the level, the greater is the representation of women (united territorial community councils > region councils > parliament).
  3. At the October 29th elections in 7 united territorial communities of Kharkov region, women composed 42 % of all candidates for the councils of the communities and 24 % of the candidates for the post of the united territorial communities heads. The largest percentage of women candidates was registered in the smallest in terms of number of voters community – Natalino (56.1 %) and Kolomak (51.1 %). The Natalino united territorial community also became the only one where women got the majority (4 out of 7) of the candidates for the post of head of community and where the woman candidate won the elections. The smallest percentage of women candidates for deputy of the united territorial communities council was registered in the largest in terms of the number of voters, Zolochiv united territorial community (30.4 %).
  4. Among the political parties, the largest percentage of women candidates was registered by BPP-Solidarity (50.6 %), which is primarily due to the co-optation of presidential candidates from the traditional “women’s spheres” of education and healthcare. Among self-nominated candidates, the percentage of women candidates (27.6 %) is significantly lower than among party nominees.
  5. The percentage of women elected to the councils of 7 united territorial communities (42 %) coincides with the percentage of women candidates – that indicates that voters do not have any significant gender electoral preferences (such as “do not vote for women” or “do not vote for men”). In the councils of Natalo and Malinovska united territorial communities, women will constitute the majority; in Zachepilovska united territorial communities, parity will be established, and in the remaining 4 united territorial communities women in the deputy corps will be less than men (the largest gender gap is in Zolochev united territorial community).
  6. Professional background is an important factor in analyzing the representation of women in the political sphere. Comparison of the professions of men and women deputies at different institutional levels (united territorial community council – regional council – Verkhovna Rada), firstly, “integrates” the Kharkov region and Ukraine, in general, into the worldwide trend of “underrepresentation” of women in areas related to industry, technology, communications and information. Secondly, what is illustrative, demonstrates the identity of the type of “political capital” that characterizes the political participation of women at each level. As in the case of local and regional councils, as well as the parliament, the largest number of represented women deputies have political experience (deputies, officials of ministries, advisers). At the same time, it should be noted the tendency of a decrease in the traditionally “female spheres” of education and health in politics, with an increase in the institutional level of councils.
  7. In general, decentralization can be considered as gender-oriented reform, since it transfers power and resources to the level where women have a relatively larger representation. At the same time, the size of representation in local councils by itself does not always guarantee a proportional influence on decision-making, which is confirmed by the low percentage of women in chief positions in the united territorial communities (in Kharkiv region – 1 out of 12 head of the united territorial community is a woman) and the absence of gender-oriented programs in local budgets.

Valentyna Kyselova, Anton Avksentiev

Center for Political Analysis “Observatory of Democracy”

Published on the website “Newsroom”

The material was prepared within the framework of a project implemented with the financial support of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) and the Government of Canada

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