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Excursion to the Verkhovna Rada and a meeting with a Member of Parliament. How the STEM Girls spent a day in the capital

7 November 2019

Kyiv, November 4 - CSR Ukraine, CSR Development Center expert organization, in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), organized a trip to Kyiv for the #STEMGirls community. Schoolgirls from different regions visited the lobbies and corridors of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) for the first time, learned about the activities of the United Nations Population Fund in Ukraine and talked with a Member of Parliament. The purpose of the trip was to inspire the girls not to be afraid of making their way towards success and to demonstrate a specific example of how women can be successful in different sectors.

Schoolgirls of grades 8-10, who were participants of the National Day of girls in technologies, took part in the trip.  20 most active girls from different regions of Ukraine were given a chance to spend a day in the capital. Immediately after their arrival, the girls visited the United Nations Population Fund.

Pavlo Zamostian, Assistant Representative of UNFPA office in Ukraine spoke about the priorities of the UN agency and motivated the girls to build a career in STEM: “The world of science is multifaceted and offers endless opportunities. If you decide to pursue a career in STEM, ignore any stereotypes. They should not stand in the way of your success. Learn and make progress to keep in step with the times."

After that, the schoolgirls went on an excursion to the Parliament of Ukraine. Olena Kostiuk, a representative of the Verkhovna Rada Educational Center, gave a training lesson for the girls on the political system of Ukraine and offered them an opportunity to feel like real members of parliament. The schoolgirls were divided into 4 fractions to work on a draft law banning the use of mobile phones in educational institutions and presented their pros and cons.

Then the schoolgirls visited the session hall of the parliamentary chamber, where the laws of Ukraine were adopted and saw with their own eyes unique historical things and rooms: the blue and yellow flag which was brought by members of parliament into the parliamentary chamber back in 1991, paintings decorating the walls of the Parliament premises and the balcony allowing to see the deputies’ place of work.

At the end of the visit, there was an inspiring meeting with Maryna Bardina, a Member of Parliament, co-chair of the Inter-Factional Deputy Association Equal Opportunities. The MP spoke about her own way to success and motivated the schoolgirls to fight gender inequality and stereotypes at school: "There are only 20% of women in the Verkhovna Rada and this is the highest rate throughout the history of Ukraine. This is not enough for us. We should not stop until this rate is increased to 50 percent”, said Maryna.

According to the girls, they were impressed by the meeting, as they had never talked to a woman Member of Parliament before. Kateryna Nesterenko, a ten-grader at South Ukrainian gymnasium No. 1 in Mykolayv region says that the excursion to the Verkhovna Rada has changed her perception of women in the professions. “I was surprised when I found out that only 20% of women were represented in the Parliament. Approximately the same number of women works in STEM. In the future, I dream of working in a lab and become a scientist. Thanks to this trip to Kyiv, I remain convinced that I am on the right track.”