Program seeks higher profile for women in Ukraine

WEYBURN, Sask. — Debra Button’s role as a Federation of Canadian Municipalities representative to Ukraine is part of a program looking at economic development and governance through the lens of gender equality.

The five-year Ukraine Municipal Local Economic Development Program is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and began in 2010.

Button said it’s ironic that she and others are working to promote this idea internationally when numbers in Canada aren’t that great.

“We are making headway,” she said.

The federation’s goal is to have women fill 30 percent of local government positions by 2026. The United Nations has defined that percentage as the minimum required for a government to reflect women’s concerns.

Based on 2012 statistics, Canada needs 1,452 more women in elected office to reach that target, according to the federation.

The Association of Ukraine Cities, which is the Ukrainian equivalent of the Canadian federation, has a board of 60, of which three or four women are now members.

Button said it has taken men in Ukraine some time to understand the concept of women’s involvement and how they think differently about issues.

Just last month, a group from Ukraine — all men — were in Brandon on a study mission, and Button said that is important, too.

“We need to educate them to be supportive,” she said.

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