By Alla Revutska, Chief Information and Project Specialist
of the executive apparatus of the Torchyn settlement council, Volyn Oblast
What is gender equality? Are equal rights for women and men. And here is where the fun begins. What is equal rights? I always used to think (no – this thought was instilled in us with the mother’s milk) that a woman is a weak creature who must first take care of her family, her husband, care for the cleanliness of the house and cooking. That’s a real woman. This is first and foremost! And then she has to work, raise children, sew-knit, work in the garden, near the farm... So, please tell me, is she a weak creature? But this is a super-powerful creation of God in the female guise!
I used to be the “perfect woman” too, but the birth of my third child changed everything dramatically. I finally realised that I do not owe anything to anyone. The only thing I “have to do” is to be happy for the sake of everyone who is happy with me: my children, husband, parents, friends...
I changed my job – teaching (which is a very decisive step in the village) – to give more attention and time to my daughter.
And here it all began... Even on a maternity leave, I was elected a deputy of the Torchyn settlement council (although during the election campaign I often heard: “What will that woman manage to do? A man needs to be elected”) At this time it I realised that I could do something useful for people without waiting for any special help from the authorities. The main thing is my own initiative, desire to work. Together with my husband, we organised the residents of our circuit and set up a playground on our own. This was the first such initiative in Torchyn. Then, in our example, new playgrounds began to appear in the settlement.
Next, there was a fixed idea to create an early childhood development studio in Torchyn for our children to be able to develop creatively, alongside the kids from cities. And the dream came true! My friend and I created a wonderful creativity centre in Torchyn. And it was not easy. “Two women have nothing to do at home, but want to open something. Who needs it? They will fail.” But this did not stop us, because we understood that we were doing a good and necessary work for the children and their parents.
At the moment there are drawing, English, dance clubs in the centre: pre-school gymnastics, folk dances, hip-hop, ballroom dancing, and early childhood development studio. In addition, there are offers for adults: English and Latin American dances. And many more interesting things: workshops, creative meetings, excursions etc. This work takes a lot of time and energy, but gives great emotional satisfaction. And the main thing that inspires is people’s gratitude.
Is it difficult for a woman to implement such initiatives? Just like a man, she has to spend a lot of time and energy. But the question is whether a woman, mother of three living in the village, can afford to spend so much time solving community problems.
I strongly disagree with this statement. Children are happiness, and three children bring triple happiness. But children are happy not because it is perfectly clean in the house, but because they have their happy mother nearby. And a happy mother is the one who has the opportunity to realise her potential in life. That is why I laugh in response to skeptics, do my favourite things, attend seminars, go in for dancing, spend my free time actively, constantly learn something new and extremely love my family.
Now I work in the Torchyn council as the expert on information and project activity. The team is mostly female. And that’s bad. After all, the gender-unbalanced team is a team that does not always fully take into account the wishes of men and women, since in solving certain problems, one must consider the opinion of a man and a woman and then make a decision.
I am constantly looking for ways to develop the hromada. I believe that woman is a battery of ideas and their implementation. Active women of hromadas are capable of making important changes. Because women are responsible workaholics, and self-realised women are still happy with what they do. A happy woman means happy children, husband, family and loved ones. Happy woman is a happy Ukraine.
In October 2019, DESPRO held an additional call for essays in a new format of a competition. The best essays are published in the Women-leaders of local self-government group and on the https://decentralization.gov.ua/en/news/tag/ese.
The views expressed in the essay are those of the authors and may not reflect the official position of the Swiss-Ukrainian Project “Decentralisation Support in Ukraine” (DESPRO).
The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE
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