48178732_10155566824111862_1162032891178254336_oFor two consecutive years now, PLEDDG Project has been supporting the Ukrainian Women’s Congress, a landmark nationwide event that brings together the most active women and men from various areas of public life – politicians, businesspersons, representatives of the non-governmental sector, the media, etc., – to unite them around the idea of gender equality as a basic element of sustainable development of Ukraine as a state. The Congress’s initiator and organizer is the Interfactional Deputy Association “Equal Opportunities” co-chaired by Ms. Aliona Babak (Samopomich), Ms. Svitlana Voitsekhovska (Narodnyi Front), Ms. Maria Ionova (BPP), and Ms. Olena Kondratiuk (Batkivschyna).

The Second Ukrainian Women’s Congress took place on December 7-8, 2018 in Kyiv. Political leaders, Ukrainian and foreign parliament members, representatives of international organizations, local authorities, Ukrainian and foreign experts took part in the Congress. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė, and the Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman greeted the attendees with a welcome speech. During the two-day event, there were held panel discussions on “Ukrainian and global trends in the policy of equal rights and opportunities for women”, “Information space safety: a gender perspective”, “The influence of international commitments on respecting equal rights and opportunities of women and men on safety: the Ukrainian and global experience”, “Extension of economic opportunities for women and overcoming discrimination in the workplace and in entrepreneurship”, etc. The key speakers of the Congress included the First Deputy Speaker of the 47580559_10155566829186862_4895366125837090816_nParliament of Ukraine Iryna Herashchenko, Vice-President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Rasa Juknevičienė, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Lilia Hrynevych, Member of Parliament of France, Deputy of the Parlaiment of France, Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Commission Mireille Clapot, Acting Leader of SDP Croatia Women’s Forum, Vice President of PES Women Karolina Leaković, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine Hennadii Zubko, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs of Ukraine Iryna Friz, Commodore, Royal Australian Navy Martin Brooker, Chair of the Unit of Women in Law Enforcement, Former Head of Ukraine’s National Police Khatia Dekanoidze, Minister of Finance of Ukraine Oksana Markarova, a Member of Parliament of Iceland Thorsteinn Viglundsson, and many others (the full list of the speakers of the Second Ukrainian Women’s Forum and Agenda of the event is here).

At the invitation of PLEDDG Project, two Canadian experts took part in the Congress: Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of the city of Kitchener, and Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO at CivicAction, Toronto, who shared their experience in introduction and implementation of the gender equality policy in Canada. Specifically, the Canadian speakers delivered their speeches during the panel discussion on “Extension of economic opportunities for women and overcoming discrimination in the workplace and in entrepreneurship” moderated by a member of Parliament, Co-Chair of the “Equal Opportunities” Caucus in the Parliament of Ukraine Aliona Babak.

Sevaun Palvetzian – CEO, CivicAction, is one of Canada’s leading experts on civic engagement. Sevaun Palvetzian has been CEO of CivicAction since January 2014. Under her leadership, CivicAction has focused on building inclusive cities with the launch of the CivicAction Leadership Foundation to change the face of leadership in the Toronto region and initiatives focused on youth unemployment and mental health in the workplace. Throughout her career, Sevaun has advocated for new voices at the tables of influence including championing the next generation of leaders. During a decade of senior executive leadership within the Ontario Government. She launched a strategy to attract and retain future generations of leaders which included the award-winning Learn and Work Program for at-risk youth. She has also held positions at the University of Toronto, the World Bank Group, and Presidential Classroom – a civic education organization in Washington DC.  A voice of influence and advocacy on urban and inclusion issues, Sevaun is frequently called on for print, radio and TV commentary, and is invited to speak at conferences on women leadership and economic empowerment.

Berry Vrbanovic is the Mayor of City of Kitchener. He also sits on the council for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo – Canada’s largest innovation hub located on the western end of the Toronto-Waterloo Region Innovation corridor.  Mayor Vrbanovic is committed to improving the quality of life for residents in Kitchener and throughout the Region of Waterloo.  He is a strong promoter of equality and empowerment of women in local government and creating a favourable environment for entrepreneurs and local economic development.  In fact, Mayor Vrbanovic was one of 3 male allies on the FCM board that were strong supporters many years ago for the creation of FCM’s Standing Committee on Women’s Participation in Local Government.

Berry Vrbanovic has been involved in supporting municipal development in Ukraine through his initial visit and evaluation mission to Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk during his FCM Presidency in 2012, his participation in the 2nd International Mayors Congress in 2016 and by hosting a Ukrainian delegation as part of the Social Enterprise and Women Entrepreneurship Study tour to Canada, organised by the PLEDDG (ПРОМІС) project, funded by the Canadian Government.


Find more information on the Second Women’s Congress here.