- by Олександра Гармаш
Strong male and female leaders build strong communities. Together they cause positive changes in the society. Stable democratic and economic development is possible only if there is equality between men and women.
Therefore, the development of women's leadership is viewed as an integral part of all projects supported by the Canadian Government.
On the 4th - the 5th of February conference "Prospects and Opportunities of Women Farmers' Movement in Ukraine" took place in Kyiv. It became possible thanks to collaboration of three Projects defined by agricultural producers as Horticulture, Milk and Grain Project. These projects are supported by the Canadian Government represented by Global Affairs Canada.
The conference was the first one throughout the history of Ukrainian independence when three Projects joined efforts and created a platform for cross-sectoral meeting of women whose business was in the sphere of agricultural production. A basis was created and women obtained an opportunity to spread their knowledge and to define common obstacles to business development. Conferences of the kind carried out on a sustainable basis give an opportunity to take joint decisions, to organize strategic relations and to influence processes taking place in the state.
Among members of the event there were male and female representatives of: Embassy of Canada in Ukraine, Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, Lviv Oblast State Administration, Canadian Projects, and women farmers one of whom was a Canadian farmer (Francine Ferland, Quebec).
The women farmers participants of the conference are successful in their business, their activities are noticeable in life of the community; and in addition to that these women take an active social position. They are an example of intelligence, work, knowledge, achievements and development.
The Conference consisted of three parts. Podium discussion of the state of affairs concerning gender matters in the state and international sphere gave an opportunity to be once again assured in the firm position of the Canadian Government concerning the importance of reaching equality between men and women in the democratic and economic environment. This discussion gave an opportunity to define that Ukrainian Government is increasingly confident in understanding and implementation of gender equality. Six participating women farmers shared the stories of their success. These stories belonged to various spheres of business, starting from development of a family farm and up to cooperative society foundation and development. An opportunity for development of youth agrarian business was created as well as a network of women farmers who were able to take common efforts and to improve the quality of rural life.
Olga Mizina, a participant of the Ukraine Horticulture Business Development Project presented the story of success of her family. She said: "Agrarian business for youths shall exist! And conditions for this are as follows: joining material, intellectual and physical efforts; continuous self-improvement including the process of learning; availability of necessary credits". Olga noted that these very three compounds had given her an opportunity to start growing a new agricultural crop and to significantly increase the area of production as well as to acquire up-to-date technical facilities.
The second part of the Conference consisted in discussing the following matters: "Family Farms", "Agricultural ServiceCooperatives", "Agrarian Business Networks". Each of these matters was viewed through the prism of "women and youth leadership - successes, problems and strategies". Groups of women were attracted to discussion in accordance with World Cafe principle. In the beginning of this discussion they defined some values to be taken as an guidemark and to be aimed at. "Experience", "Prosperity", "Trust" were undisputed leaders among these values. Then problems arising on the way of reaching the defined values were determined. After lively discussions, there were also determined the methods/ directions for solving problems and overcoming obstacles. Such directions include: attracting investments, soft lending, favorable marketing (including access to international markets and high level of profitability), stable and transparent legislation, production processes mechanization, state support / programs, increasing number of women in the in decision-making positions (including the Verkhovna Rada and other state authorities).
The final stage of the event included operational planning where a plan was developed for women's network joint activities. In addition to that each woman taking part in the conference defined 2 or 3 directions of her personal activities for the next three year period.
Participant of the Ukraine Horticulture Business Development Project Olena Berezina proposed to create an initiative group intended for implementtation of the plan developed at the Conference, for informing the participants of the Conference and all interested persons about the results (even if these results are negative) as well as for collecting and systematization of information required for advocacy of women and youth movement in the rural area.
A voting was organized and the composition of the initiative group was defined (this group was defined as the "organizing committee"). The committee included:
|Name ||Location (oblast) ||Specialization |
|Head Lyuba Klubok||Lviv||milk|
|Vira Mashins’ka||Kherson||grain, horticulture|
After the conference, the elected committee had a meeting for better acquaintance. We will observe the further work of the committee and inform male and female clients of our project about its activities and further plans.
At the end of the Conference there was organized a tour for women farmers to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. One of the participants noted: "First I was skeptical as for the visit to the Verkhovna Rada. But now, when I have already been inside I understand that it is simply a building. And this building is not somewhere in the space but here in this street, where I can walk freely. People work here. I felt that something I had considered unattainable and remote was by my side. I have realized that I can and I have to influence the course of the events in my community as well as in the whole society". At the end of the tour women farmers formed a symbolic circle in front of the stairs to the Verkhovna Rada. By means of that circle they united east and west, south and north of the country.
Summing up the obtained results and the developed plans of further activities, we may expect that women's movement in Ukraine will become stronger, more evident and will be heard.
At the same time, the Ukraine Horticulture Business Development Project will also follow the principles of gender equality in all spheres of its activity focusing the special attention on development, advocacy and movement of women farmers.
Alexandra Garmash, Gender / Cooperative Manager