Today, there’s only a few Ukrainian journalists trying to raise awareness of human rights in public discussion. For instance, on International Women’s Day in March this year, the majority of programmes on national TV were not about women’s rights or the demands of the Women’s March. When the host of news programme Podrobnosti Nedeli asked MP Tetiana Ostrikova about her attitude to 8 March, the MP answered that she loves the “spring holiday”, and that “Ukrainian women, despite gas prices, are energetic, kind, responsive, and can survive in any conditions.”
Hardly a single TV channel discussed the concerns of women who joined the demonstration on Kyiv streets on 8 March – in particular, about how to raise the voices and visibility of women in Ukrainian society.
This is the description of the demonstration by the organisers of the Women’s March 2019:
“We are women who have different sexual orientations, gender identities, skin colour, ethnicity, and nationality. We are of different ages, different beliefs and social classes. We belong to different social groups, which makes us vulnerable to different kinds of discrimination and violence. Our voice must be heard; our demands must be met, and our rights must be equal.”
Was anything from the above list discussed on Ukrainian television? Did Ukrainian politicians attend the march and include the participants’ demands in their programs? No.
It’s like a vicious circle: TV channels refuse to set the tone for a real public discussion and are ignoring human rights movements and women’s organisations; politicians are not able to explain their positions on any topic simply because they have no real understanding of the issues – particularly as something as “complicated” as gender studies.
Meanwhile, viewers set their own views in relation to the TV and politicians, and come to the conclusion that “this issue is not topical”.
The desire to preserve their popularity prevents Ukrainian politicians from solving the real problems of their fellow citizens – a part of whom are cast aside or are forced to follow the “generally accepted” political “norms” of today’s Ukraine. But as they reject a section of their fellow citizens, Ukrainian politicians show that they are still very far from the “European dream” they claim to be following.