Where have all the women gone...?
Mental Callisthenics with Vujko Ilko
By Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
“Why aren’t the women protesting,” asks Uncle Ilko as we settle with our cappuccinos. I have no idea what he’s going to raise this time but it’s bound to be interesting if it deals with women.
“Explain, please, why that feisty woman is not being supported by Ukrainian women’s organizations of the free world?”
Vujko is out to do battle with Ukrainian women in the diaspora. My sense is to advise him to stay gender-neutral, but he’s off.
been given seven years, for goodness sake and there is no
a woman, a PhD, a politician, a world-class figure - everything these
organizations stand for. Where is the outcry to the male
the recidivist Party of Regions who aim to make a Joan of Arc out of
is devoting this session on matters Ukrainian to Yulia Tymoshenko,
Prime Minister of Ukraine, put on trial for allegedly abusing her
the gas wars with
you realize what power women have? She’s someone still
capturing the imagination of the free world, being called Yulia
“Vujku, you are stressing out. She is not universally seen as a saint.”
shmaint! The government’s determined to wipe out
“Okay Vujku, calm down. Let’s focus on the women. Are you saying they have power and aren’t using it?”
“Exactly. Diaspora women are well organized - LUK, Soyuz, katolyky, pravoslavni - to name a few. They have national and international networks. Yet they missed electing Yulia by 5%.”
they don’t vote in
course they don’t, but they have influence. They don’t
go to meetings for their own sake, do they? Or visit
“You want them to put pressure on President Viktor Yanukovych to exonerate her?”
line of attack should have been self-evident when she was first taken
custody. And again, when arrested for asking
“A delegation visited her in jail in Kyiv this summer.”
they showing the same sort of female solidarity by attending the
some women have been in the forefront of organizing the
applaud them. But I would you say that some 100 demonstrators -
them men - represent an ‘overwhelming’ support for a sister
As always, Uncle Ilko has a way of hitting the nail on the head even if it causes an “ouch”. He’s right. With some key exceptions, there has been as absence of high profile women leaders support. Few, if any, have said anything close to Patrick Henry’s “My country right or wrong”, or defended the need for judicial due process of law for an accused. Civics is not a strong suit in our community.
“Vujku, what needs to be done?”
Ilko shuts down and stirs his untouched coffee. I am keenly aware of
unrealized potential of all those well educated, beautiful women who
churches and halls, yet stay aloof from one of the great historic
“What needs to be done is that the women need to use their power. Yulia does this brilliantly. And remember: it’s not Yulia or Myroslava that’s the real issue here. It’s the sentencing of opposition leaders under the guise of a fair legal process. For democrats like us, this is wrong.
“What should women do, you ask? Put on a vyshyvanka and lead their children and grandchildren to a demonstration while explaining the basic differences between a democracy and an authoritarian state. Then go out for a varenyky treat. And that, my friend, is good parenting.”