In view of the upcoming parliamentary elections, on behalf of the United Nations, I wish to raise attention to the importance of equal women’s participation in elections and their representation in the next convocation of the Verkhovna Rada.

Ukrainian women make 54 per cent of the population yet historically they have been only marginally represented in the Government and Verkhovna Rada and have never held a position of the President. Women face a myriad of challenges in politics; often being judged based on how they look or dress more than based on their substantive ideas. Women’s views and opinions are held to a much higher standard than men. Yet, Ukrainian women have continuously withstood such challenges and stand ready and capable to take up leadership positions.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated that gender equality is a question of power. “We still live in a male‑dominated world and in a male‑dominated culture. The world needs parity to change power relations of society,” he said.

Elections is a landmark occasion in any democratic society that comes only every five years and therefore should be seized to bring about bold change to build better societies. Today I call on all decision makers in political parties and elected politicians who have the power and responsibility - to show political will and courage in implementing at least 30 per cent quota for women candidates in the electoral lists of political parties. The de-facto enforcement of quotas is vital for reversing endemic discrimination and achieving substantive equality between women and men.

It is important to point out that underrepresentation of women in political life is not just a matter of injustice for women; it triggers inequality and discrimination in all spheres of life and holds back progress for entire society. Conversely, the benefits of women’s participation in exercising political power is unequivocal. Equal political representation of women is a cornerstone of human rights, social justice, peace and sustainable development. When women have equal opportunity at work, productivity accelerates. When they are excluded - everyone pays a price.

In calling for enforcement of the electoral quotas during the formation of the political party lists I specifically refer to the Ukraine’s obligations under the United Nations Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which it has ratified. Article 4 requires the State to implement the temporary special measures, including quotas, and Article 7 calls on elimination of discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country.

The United Nations acknowledges all the policy and legal advances, which Ukraine has made towards achieving equality between women and men so far. We stand ready to continue working together with women and men of Ukraine to achieve social justice and sustainable development in the country.