On May 30, Interpeace’s Women’s Constitutional Voices project organized a workshop in Kiev, inviting women from across Ukraine to participate. The workshop, organized in co-operation with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS), addressed ways in which women could participate fully in the constitution-making process.
Many of the women who attended were members of local government, chosen not only for their job role but because of their community volunteer work. The daylong event included discussion on what constitutions are, how they are made and how women’s voices can be heard during the process of constructing a constitution.
The participants voiced their concerns about severe obstacles blocking the path to political reform in Ukraine and expressed a strong interest in having their own, and their fellow citizens voices included in the debate.
Isolation from the reform process, even at a local level, was a common frustration for the women. The dangers of speaking out were also raised; one participant’s house was burned down after she wrote about corruption in her local community.
But the women were not deterred by these obstacles. They showed enthusiasm and a strong commitment to having a role to play in the reform process. After the event the participants exchanged emails in order to keep in touch and to continue their discussions with one another outside of the workshop, helping to bridge the gap of isolation.
While in Ukraine, the Constitution-making for Peace Programme (CMP) met with representatives from international and local organizations to deepen understanding of the current Ukrainian situation and begin developing a plan of action. Important lessons were learned from stakeholders and the workshop discussion. The promotion of constitutionalism, education driven reform of the political environment, and the support of citizen’s active engagement in the reform process were all identified as potential areas for CMP to help with.
Photo credit: Interpeace