Despite the fact that 64 percent of Ukrainians say men and women should be equally involved in political life, women only make up 21 percent of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament). Misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding gender equality and its advocates create an unfavorable environment for women’s political participation. In order to combat these narratives, and with support from NDI, the Regional Press Development Institute (RPDI) and publishing house Vydavnytstvo have implemented the “She Did It” project to expose the public to stories of Ukrainian women who have not received the acclaim they deserve.
At the core of the project are a two volume book series, video campaign, and podcast. The books, targeted at children and young adults, highlight 100 Ukrainian women’s contributions to world history, society, and culture. Each profile was created by Ukrainian writers and illustrators. NDI has donated almost three thousand copies of the book to libraries across the country, with an emphasis on rural areas. NDI’s civil society partners have also organized dozens of events, often featuring contributors to the books, in schools, libraries, and other public venues across Ukraine.
Following the success of the book series, NDI supported RPDI’s “Women are 50% of Ukraine's Success” platform and its #SheDoesIt campaign early last year. Launched ahead of 2020 local elections, #SheDoesIt highlighted the contributions of more than 90 contemporary women leaders in Ukraine. In a series of short interviews shared on the campaign’s website and social media pages, the women discussed the importance of civic and political participation. These interviews have been viewed more than 650,000 times on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
“The first step to a better life and justice is to increase the number of women in politics,” said activist Maryna Matkovska in her video interview. “Equality in power will promote the development of communities and consideration of the interests of all groups.”
The latest component of the project is the She Did It podcast series. The series includes 40 episodes dedicated to the heroines of the two-volume book series and is hosted by rapper Freel, writer Serhii Osoka, and RPDI staff, and features the authors and illustrators of the book series as guests. As of August, the podcast has been played more than 9,500 times on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and RPDI's "Povaha Campaign Against Sexism" website.
Through the She Did It project, NDI’s partners are challenging gender stereotypes and promoting a positive image of influential women in Ukraine. By sharing positive stories of women in the media, as well as highlighting female role models, NDI is supporting the development of a more conducive environment for women’s civic engagement and political participation.
NDI and its partners RPDI and Vydanytstvo thank the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) for its ongoing support of the She Did It project.
View the complete photo gallery for the She Did It Initiative here.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.