Prime Minister Azarov to answer charges of discrimination in court
Kateryna Levchenko, President of the International Women’s Human Rights Centre La Strada – Ukraine and Olena Suslova, Head of the Information and Consultative Women’s Centre have filed law suits against the Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov.
Their suits, lodged with the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv assert that the Prime Minister violated the constitutional norm on the equality of men and women.
As reported here, Mr Azarov stated that “carrying out reform in Ukraine is not a woman’s matter”.
He claimed that in the new government people had been chosen who can work 16 hours a day “without weekends and days off”, can take responsibility and are not afraid to say no to the leadership.
Earlier this week, the Cabinet of Ministers press service claimed that the Prime Minister’s words had been distorted, and that he had simply been saying that women were not able to put in so many hours of work. However Ms Levchenko is adamant that there is a recording of his address and that there was no distortion.
“We have enclosed with our law suit a disk with the recording of Mykola Yanovych’s speech in Dnipropetrovsk on 19 March where he clearly and distinctly says: “Reform is not a woman’s matter”. These words are not subject to two interpretations. He said what he wanted to say – that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, and not in the government.”
In an article on Ukrainska Pravda entitled “Why I took the Prime Minister to court” (http://www.pravda.com.ua/columns/2010/04/1/4904154/ ), Kateryna Levchenko explains that she has simply had enough. This was not, after all, the first staggering utterance from those now in power. When Viktor Yanukovych, as presidential candidate, refused to take part in a television debate with Yulia Tymoshenko, attributed by many commentators to his reluctance to be outshined by a powerful and eloquent debater, he ended with the words: “If she is a woman, she should go to the kitchen and demonstrate her skills there”.
The Cabinet of Ministers formed after parliament passed a law changing the Verkhovna Rada Regulations on coalition formation, has a record number of ministers and not one woman.
And then came the “gem” from Mr Azarov, which Ms Levchenko describes as follows “Azarov’s words are a public statement by a high-ranking government official which result in my personal rights and legitimate interests being violated, obstructions being put in the way of my exercising the constitutional right to take part in governance. They are also a demonstration of direct discrimination, that is, infringe the norms of the Constitution which are norms of direct force.”