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News / March 5, 2024

Partner Profile: Civic Monitoring of Political Finance to Advance Gender Equality


Since 2015, CEPPS core partner IFES has partnered with CHESNO Movement, an independent Ukrainian NGO dedicated to encouraging transparency and accountability of elected representatives, promoting a more representative democracy, and implementing civic monitoring for political finance. In particular, the digitalization of party financial reports, which was advocated by CHESNO, which means “honestly” in English, enabled an analysis of financial reporting data. In 2021, CHESNO collected sex-disaggregated data on income and expenditure of candidates in the 2019 parliamentary elections. IFES then analyzed this data to explore the connections between political finance and gender equality, which were presented in their Gender and Political Finance in Ukrainian Elections: Sources of Income and Patterns of Power.  This 2021 report described the close and complex relationship between political finance and gender equality in Ukraine and recommended both legal and behavioral reforms.

In 2015, Ms. Vita Dumanska joined CHESNO to lead a nationwide campaign to strengthen the transparency and accountability among local authorities and political parties. An economist by training, she currently serves as the CEO of CHESNO.

In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Vita shared her views on investing in gender equality, advancing women’s rights, and why civic monitoring of political finance is critical to advancing gender equality.


On investing in gender equality:

“Some people, and politicians are no exception, still perceive maintaining gender equality as an expense. But it is an investment in improving the quality of life. Because with gender equality, the interests of different groups are better represented, and then more inclusive decisions are made.

The state invests in gender equality when it offers equal opportunities for women and men in the labor market, the chance to take care of children equally, and the opportunity to serve in the army on equitable terms. Entrepreneurs contribute when they pay fees based on professionalism or qualifications, rather than tying them to gender. Every family contributes to gender equality by raising children without the harmful gender stereotypes that take decades to overcome.

My investment as a leader of the CHESNO Movement is in advocating for norms that increase opportunities for women in politics, remove barriers in campaign financing, and encourage parties to develop women’s leadership. I am also proud that CHESNO has equal opportunities for career advancement and pay, and most of the management positions are held by women. As a mother of two sons, I raise my children with a sense of equality for all people in terms of rights and opportunities.

While it may sound ironic, supporting men also contributes to advancing gender equality. Men must eliminate stereotypes, support their wives’ career aspirations, and help raise children. And, of course, help inspire them to participate in political life. On the other hand, the socio-economic effects of investing in women, their education, health, and professional development is most noticeable when discussing achieving gender equality.

In my view, the most impactful measure to achieve gender equality lies in broadening opportunities for political engagement and fostering increased participation of women in decision-making processes. During the last two years of war with Russia, Ukrainian women showed the whole world what empowerment, women’s leadership, and sisterhood are. They became leaders in parliamentary diplomacy and advocacy for international support, led some of the most important parliamentary committees, became deputy prime ministers, and received positions in the government. Women’s political leadership in Ukraine is no longer aspirational; it has become tangible.”


On CHESNO’s work to advance gender equality in Ukraine:

“CHESNO works within the political sphere, which is entirely closed to most people because of the high entry price into the “club”. A comprehensive understanding of the current situation is essential to championing policy changes that improve political access. CHESNO invests a lot of effort in collecting quality data based on which policies can be adjusted to do that.

For example, we are supporters of evidence-based policymaking, so we collect data to detect financial barriers to women. CHESNO aims to ensure that all women, including those fleeing the country because of Russia’s war of aggression, can exercise their right to vote in post-war elections. We believe political parties actually want to see women leaders on their lists and not simply just reach gender quotas. Our hope is for gender equality to be embraced widely as a societal objective.”

For more from Vita, follow her and CHESNO on social media: @chesno_movement @DumanskaVita

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