When it comes to analysing obstacles for mediation developing in Ukraine, few people, even mediators themselves, consider the gender issue. This can probably be explained by the existence of de facto gender inequality in Ukraine, which is so obvious that no one really pays attention.

For thousands of years of Ukrainian history, the vast majority of Ukrainian society has considered the role of a woman as the ideal assistant and subordinate. Her place in public has been limited to meekly following the instructions of the male mastermind. Ukrainian men believe it is sufficient for a woman to lead at home. Indeed, Ukrainian women are the top managers in their families while men rule at work, perhaps compensating for this celebrated domestic discrimination. The result is that the majority of decision makers in Ukraine are men who only take male professionals seriously; most believe that listening to a woman is a waste of their precious time.

That said, there is a female majority among Ukrainian mediators, legal counsel who represent clients during mediation and, in general, champions of the mediation movement, which can be partially attributed to the soft skills that play an important role in the mediation process.

As a result, the common practice in Ukraine is that, when a woman (either external counsel or in-house) offers mediation services to a potential male client, his view is clouded by social prejudices and, consequently, he loses sight of mediation and the obvious benefits it offers, purely because a woman is marketing the concept.

Jul-Sep 2013 issue

Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)