In the beginning of March Europe and the world are celebrating the International Women’s Day. For some reasons in many countries it is often associated with romantic festive spirit, celebration of spring and blooming. In this regard, women are mostly wished to be tender, caring and beautiful.
Many of us forgot about preceding historical context which is much more deeper and complicated. Just imagine that in some countries more or less 100 years ago women did not have the opportunity to vote and be elected, participate in civil service or take leading roles. They experienced many restrictions and violations and still there are limited suffrage for both men and women in certain countries, but also discrimination.
During the 10th Anniversary of Eastern Partnership Launch Event, I had an extraordinary experience giving an interview about my Mom and Grandma. We discussed how the European values have influenced our women family line. It was quite difficult to evaluate it. My Grandma was born after the Second World War and somehow still feels nostalgic about the Soviet Union, even though she was very supportive during Euromaidan and our intention to take the EU path. My Mom, being a young woman, experienced transitional times and witnessed the formation of a new state. I am a child of the Independent Ukraine and I was among other students who formed the first crowds of people at Independence Square underpinning our loyalty to European values.
This is fascinating how we all share completely different life experiences in my family. Although having diverse backgrounds, I think we have a lot in common. Women in my family have always been strong and overcame obstacles on their life path independently. That is why, we do share our beliefs in women power and express the solidarity to each other and women all over the world.
The EU mainstreams support of gender equality across all sectors of cooperation in the Eastern Partnership countries. It lies at the core of European values. Negative gender stereotypes, pay-gaps between men and women, lower participation and higher unemployment rates among women, limited access to credit for women entrepreneurs - all this indicates the need for stronger support of women's empowerment and gender balance in the region.
For the IWD, I want women to be wished not beauty but comfort and autonomy, not tenderness but self-confidence, not being protected by a strong man but having equal opportunities for self-fulfillment. I want all women to be aware of their rights and to have them implemented! Stronger Together! Happy Women's Day!