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Episode 6: Practical Steps for Combatting Sexism in Media & Politics

October 25, 2018

It’s not enough to simply recognize sexism exists in society. In order to call out sexism and create the conditions for equality we must move people into action. In the second episode of our Ukraine series, Iryna Slavinska shares background on the practical steps she is taking as a coordinator of a campaign to combat sexism in media and politics in Ukraine. Her experience as a journalist gives her unique insights about how to create reforms within media to address patterns of sexism that perpetuate negative stereotypes about women in Ukraine.

Iryna has breathed life and mainstream relevance into the Povaha platform, which simply means “respect” in Ukrainian. She and a team of gender advocates have been creating innovative strategies to influence Ukrainian mentality and build a demand structure for equality, by for example, creating a database of women for journalists to access to ensure that they are more equally represented in media as experts, and by monitoring and pushing back on sexism in media and among Ukrainian’s political class. Povaha is a tool for ensuring equality in policy and society by illustrating women’s everyday experiences fighting against a patriarchal culture that attempts to keep women out of leadership or primarily in the domain of the home. As a journalist, Irnya is uniquely positioned to tell the stories of inequality with practical solutions for change.

Iryna is one of Ukraine’s top journalists writing about culture and, in particular, literature, which led her to start covering gender issues, calling for gender equality in media and in public life. She worked with the online news website Ukrainska Pravda, the cultural magazine Sho (What), and women’s magazine Elle Ukraine. In 2012, Slavinska worked for the TVi television channel, but she, along with about 30 colleagues, left after a scandal over the change in the channel’s ownership. Together with other prominent journalists, she worked on the revival of non-commercial and non-governmental Hromadske Radio in 2013 out of a commitment to the “strength and truth of unconditional freedom of speech which cannot be limited by the interests of authorities, business people, or politicians”.

In this episode of Fatima’s Hand, advocates will hear about the tools for making discussions of feminism relevant to a wider audience – through the use of humor, engaging first-person content, and strategies to hold public officials (including sexist women) accountable to ensuring equality. Listeners will learn about the movement in Ukraine that proceeded the global #MeToo phenomenal against sexual harassment (“I’m not Afraid to Tell”). They will understand the high expectations placed on Ukrainian women to be “beautiful” and its impact on sex trafficking, and importantly, how to create a supportive network in your own personal life for equality. Iryna, through Povaha and her commitment to reform, is trailblazing tools that can be used in any cultural context to demonstrate that women are willing to fight for equality and expect more of their countries to take action to live up to the ideals of fairness, by ultimately, showing more respect for over half of the world’s population.

Podcast Notes

  • 2:13 Everyday sexism in Ukraine
  • 5:36 Journalist to journalist engagement
  • 7:31 "Ask a Woman" database
  • 9:52 Prepping women to do media
  • 11:47 Beauty expectations of women leaders
  • 14:54 Shifting ideas of feminism in Ukraine
  • 15:50 The remedy for "mail order brides"
  • 20:08 Personal experiences with sexism
  • 22:04 Ukraine's #MeToo movement: #яНеБоюсьСказати
  • 25:19 Finding your own tribe
  • 27:40 How to cope with sexism among women leaders
  • 31:10 Dealing with conservative family structures in Ukraine
  • 36:32 The double bind of generous maternity leave policies
  • 39:49 Content that helps create a demand structure for change
  • 41:46 The power of post revolution leadership for equality
  • 43:30 Humor as a tool for raising issues of inequality
  • 45:03 Male allies - are they really out there?
  • 48:16 Pushing for legislative quotas in Ukraine
  • 48:51 How the world will be different for women 20 years from now
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