“Mama was washing a window, papa was reading a newspaper”, everyone who was born in the USSR knows this phrase because is the very first we’ve learnt to read. There are feminine work and masculine work. We know about it from the first images of our childhood, we received them with breast milk.
A girl in Ukraine grows in circumstances of poverty, inequality between women and men, without a perspective to receive a good work and high salary. Their mothers understand the difficulty of such situation. That’s why the main goal for them is… to find a good couple for a girl, the earlier the better. They understand that good education is nothing, because it doesn’t give you confidence in future. The main is to marry, with someone who already has or potentially will have a house and a car.
Some people begin to think that education loses its sense. My niece is 16 years old; she studies in the college and will be an accountant soon. Is not because she wants, is because was an opportunity to receive some profession faster. In the college she received proposals to enter the University. But she doesn’t see the prospect. Neither her mother. Her mother forces her to begin searches for a husband. Or another option my niece has is to follow the example of her other aunt. After graduating from the University she went to work into Germany as a baby sitter to find a German man and marry with him.
This is the picture of modern Ukraine. Even highly educated women often have to prove their qualifications by the sweat of their brow. And still, being a professional, you will prepare tea for men in your office, because you are a woman. Women in my work do.
The economic hard times has lead to a depression of women’s psychological state with loss of self-esteem and hope for the future. Women accept unlikely offers of employment in unskilled jobs at high salaries with the resignation that “it cannot be worse” than their present lives.
It resulted that trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation became a serious problem in Ukraine affecting 100,000s of victims and their families.
Trafficking and prostitution are highly gendered systems that result from structural inequality between women and men on a world scale. Men create the demand and women are the supply. Survivors often recount their experiences spent in sex industries as being abusive, degrading, and harmful to their health and well being.
Women become desperate because they don’t believe that education will provide them with a good job, but without it their attempts to find a better place often finish tragically.
Fortunately, the situation began to change a little. Yes, Ukraine still needs to combat stronger and prevent trafficking in women; but women begin to understand they have rights. We should teach our daughters that potential doesn’t have gender difference and everyone can choose any profession and deserve to receive a good salary. More women go to business and we need more special courses on how to start your own business and how a woman can survive in modern world.
Education in different direction is the most powerful instrument to change the society and change the world. I teach my daughter and my niece that education is important, because it brings confidence and respect. And teaching them I use my example. I have two master degrees, I speak three languages, I travel in other countries, my work gives me satisfaction because we fight for good things: for nature and humans rights protection. I feel free to develop myself not only as a housekeeper, but in so many different ways: as a woman, as a professional, as a social activist. And the main I have is the right to determine my future. If we understand this we will bring changes!
Many women beginning their lives with “washing the window” continue rubbing it till high gloss and cannot go through it. This window even has a name – “glass ceiling”. But if you look deeper, this glass has a handle and is possible to open this window to let in the wind of change. And who knows, maybe this wind will carry away the newspaper from papa’s hands.Girls Transform the World 2013