RADA Program organized a short visit to Lithuania for Gender Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada in frame of peer-to-peer component. Lithuania has a very effective system of gender mainstreaming and a gender ombudsman; in addition, the European Union’s Institute for Gender Equality is located in Vilnius.
RADA Program’s commitment to advance gender equality and pursue gender as a key development issue and its considerable focus on the integration of gender considerations has been long-standing throughout the project implementation.
MP Svitlana Voitsekhovska and the Head of the HR Department of the VR Secretariat Vitaliy Maksymyak had numerous fruitful visits and discussions. They visited the Ombudsman’s office, where they exchanged ideas on gender equality principle implementation.
Also, the study tour participants met Caucus and MPs form the Lithuanian Parliament. Lithuanian MPs acknowledged experience of the Ukrainian Caucus “Equal opportunities” and expressed the will to apply it into their work.
There was an interesting meeting with the staff of the Ministry of social security and labor. The parties shared their successes and struggles. Lithuanian officials were highly interested in the course on public policy analysis in compliance with principle of equal opportunities for men and women. The USAID RADA gender expert Olena Suslova elaborated the course for the Verkhovna Rada staff and has been teaching it since March.
During the study visit Gender Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada met with the Ministry of foreign affairs of Lithuania, as it is an engine for the implementation of the gender balance principles into the policies.
The issue of the Istanbul convention ratification has been a common thread of the entire study visit. Neither Ukraine, nor Lithuania ratified this document. As the head of the Human rights Committee (of the Lithuanian Parliament) Valerijus Simulik noted “our fears must not stand between us and European values.”
Symbolically, the Ukrainian Gender Caucus visited the European Institute for Gender Equality, when the final decision on visa free regime waiver for Ukraine was made. The European Institute for Gender Equality is a European agency to support the Member States and the European institutions (in particular the Commission) in their efforts to promote gender equality, to fight discrimination based on sex and to raise awareness of gender issues.
The tasks of the institute are to collect and analyze comparable data on gender issues, to develop methodological tools, in particular for the integration of the gender dimension in all policy areas, to facilitate the exchange of best practices and dialogue among stakeholders, and to raise awareness among EU citizens. The seat of the European Institute for Gender Equality is in Vilnius (Lithuania).
The practical experience of Lithuania can help to identity ways of improving the gender imbalance and gender blindness in Ukraine’s policy and lawmaking now that there are champions for gender equality in Ukraine.