In the words of Sofia Maksymenko: “Women in decision-making positions bring their unique knowledge and experiences to the local development processes”

The enhanced participation of women in public life can bring transformative changes to their communities. Women want to be actively engaged in local decision-making processes and they have proved that they can drive positive results when in top political positions, believes Sofia Maksymenko. She is the self-help group leader and newly elected head of Zvanivka, a community in the conflict-affected Donetsk oblast located near the contact line. Sofia is one of the 72 women members of self-help groups from conflict-affected Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia regions who ran in the 2020 local elections.


Photo: UN Women Ukraine/Vitaliy Shevelev
Photo: UN Women Ukraine/Vitaliy Shevelev


Women nowadays are not only mothers and homemakers. Women's political representation in our community has been growing in recent years. After the last election, half of our community council were women., I can now say for sure, that women in decision-making positions are more detail-oriented and results-driven, mindful, and empathetic. Women are highly responsive not only to women's needs but to the needs and concerns of every single member of the community. Women in politics have a vision and they bring their unique knowledge and experiences to the local development processes.

I am always open to new learning opportunities and this is why I joined the training on Community Mobilization for Empowerment organized by UN Women.

Even though many small villages in Ukraine are almost drained of people who are migrating to urban settlements, I want to ensure that my community will offer quality health care, education, employment opportunities and social services, discouraging people from leaving. I am planning to mobilize resources to build a kindergarten, open a grocery store, and a pharmacy in Zvanivka. This is my homeland and I want to protect it and contribute to its development. Diverse people of different ethnicities, with various skills and competences want to contribute to building a prosperous and sustainable community.

UN Women Ukraine supported women from the conflict-affected east of Ukraine by developing their advocacy and leadership capacity to enable their engagement in the local decision-making processes and, as a result, boosting their participation in local political life. This work is a part of the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, implemented by UN Women, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Twelve international partners support the Programme: The European Union, the European Investment Bank, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.