The Ukrainian Women’s Fund in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is carrying out
gender monitoring of the local elections held on 25 October 2020.
The purpose of this gender monitoring is to deliver a comprehensive gender analysis of the election process
with the aim of identifying opportunities and obstacles for women’s participation in elections and for women’s election to local governments.
Compliance with the gender quota has led to more women on party electoral lists for oblast and city councils of big cities, in particular the 24 city councils of cities-oblast centers, Kyiv, Kramatorsk, and Bakhmut, in comparison with the previous elections of 2015. Also, compared to the previous local elections, women’s representation in newly elected councils has increased from 20 percent to nearly 31 percent in the above mentioned city councils, and from 15 percent to 28 percent in oblast councils. In its previous statement, the Ukrainian Women’s Fund presented data on the limited implementation of the quota.
However, statistics provided by the Central Election Commission show that despite increased representation of women in big communities, generally women’s representation in the local councils of Ukraine decreased by 12.6 percent. While in the 2015 local elections, 49.5 percent of women were elected to the local councils, in 2020, this number reached only 36.9 percent.
Decline in the general statistics results from a sharp decrease of women’s representation at the level of settlement and village councils – from 46.1 percent and 55.7 percent in 2015 to 37.9 percent and 41.3 percent in 2020.
Women’s representation as settlement, village, and city mayors has also decreased – from 31.4 percent based on the 2015 election results to 16.6 percent according to the results of the 2020 elections.
Decentralization reform led to consolidation of territorial communities and reduction in the number of local councils. In 2015, elections were held in 9831 settlement and village councils and 131989 councilors were elected, and in 2020, elections were held in 1051 councils and 23894 councilors of settlement and village councils were elected. While 10131 village, settlement, and city mayors were elected as a result of the 2015 local elections (among them 6954 men (68.6 percent) and 3177 women (31.4 percent)), at the 2020 local elections, the number of elected mayors is only 1412 (1178 men (83.4 percent) and 234 women (16.6 percent)).
Consolidation of territorial communities leads to increased competition and a growing role of financial and other resources needed for election campaigns. While large-scale advertising during election campaigns was not typical for a small community, since opinion leaders were well known to the community and could organize in-person meetings with voters and share information on their own, in a bigger community, unequal access of women and men to resources can impact election results.
According to the Ukrainian Women’s Fund, the role of training and mentorship programs for women, interested in local politics, on planning and running an election campaign, voter outreach, accumulating resources to overcome inequality at the starting line, and winning an election is increasing. Women candidates are interested in information resources and gaining knowledge.
At the 2015 elections of the heads of territorial communities, women secured a victory more often – while their representation among candidates was 13 percent, it reached 31.4 percent among elected heads. At the 2020 elections, women’s representation was 16.4 percent among candidates and 16.6 percent among elected heads.
Increase of the election deposit and introduction of the deposit at all levels, irrespective of the number of voters, have become another unfavorable factor for women running at the local elections.
The Ukrainian Women’s Fund monitoring displayed a tendency toward a decrease in women’s representation in newly elected councils after the announcement of election results.
According to the results of the elections held on 25 October 2020, 1660 councilors have been elected to oblast councils (1195 men and 465 women). Among them, 105 men (8.8 percent of the elected men councilors) and 60 women (13 percent) gave up their mandates. The changes resulted in a decrease of women’s representation in oblast councils from 28 percent to 26.5 percent.
1244 councilors, including 860 men and 384 women, have been elected to the city councils of big cities, in particular, the 24 city councils of cities-oblast centers, Kyiv, Kramatorsk, and Bakhmut. Among them, 89 men (10.3 percent of elected men councilors) and 44 women (11.5 percent) gave up their mandates. The changes resulted in a decrease in women’s representation in the city councils of these cities from 30.9 percent to 29.8 percent.
The general number of withdrawals among elected candidates was higher, since several candidates could have given up the same mandate before the final election results were announced. The possible reasons for it include formal compliance with the gender quota ensured by political parties for the purpose of completing the registration, pressure from party branches, low interest among candidates in working at a local council, change of their life priorities etc. Lack of women’s involvement in decision making during candidate nomination and in other crucial internal party decisions does not favour internal party democracy strengthening and representation of citizens’ interests by elected party candidates.
The Ukrainian Women's Fund urges political parties to go beyond compliance with the gender quota during elections and involve women in party work more actively, including decision making and formation of parity policy in the party, in the period between elections.
Follow the links below to find previous monitoring materials: