Leave Azarov alone: Only sharpest sharks should be political leaders
It was amusing to watch the storm of criticism caused by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s remark on March 19 that "it’s not a woman’s business to conduct reforms.”
According to him, the new government consists of people who can work 16 hours per day, without holidays and who are not afraid to say "no” to their chiefs. Later, Azarov explained he would not wish any woman, especially if she has children, to work more than 15 hours a day, as his ministers do.
Particularly, it was entertaining to see protests coming from women who have neither the intention nor the capability of being in politics. Putting absolutely no political spin on it, I think Azarov made a good point.
We are not talking about regular jobs where women can often be as or even more productive than men. We are talking about politicians. These are people who have almost lost any human features. They are caught up in a never-ending race for money and power. They struggle endlessly with their opponents in attempts to rule the nation. Even the most brilliant politicians with the best intentions to serve their nation, in order to implement something, must fight for power and cope with rivals who are constantly trying to take their places.
Is it natural for a woman to be like this? How many women in the world are able to keep up with such a pace and still be productive?
Those who can are exceptional and there are certainly relatively few of them.
And do you think Azarov-type remarks would ever stop such women, like Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi or Yulia Tymoshenko from grabbing power?
Never. They also probably would not take offense to such remarks because they realize they are exceptional. And the reason international community reacted so sharply to Azarov’s comment was mere political correctness. World leaders realize, better than anyone else, that a true woman politician is, indeed, a rare case.
And such women, who are capable of being in power and performing without making concessions, are already in politics. They will be there, regardless of social or individual attitudes.
Others choose to complain.
My question for Femen, the group of young Ukrainian women who strip to their underwear in social protests to denounce Azarov, is: What are you stripping for? Who do you support?
Female politicians? They don’t need your support. A true Thatcher-type woman will be in power no matter what, like Cleopatra in Egypt, Merkel in Germany, Queen Victoria in England, etc.
Or maybe, girls, you want to conduct reforms yourself? If yes, why are you still stripping? If no, again, why are you stripping?
Diversity is virtuous but not applicable to every sphere of life because humans, by nature, are not equally strong.
Diversity works in universities, where cultural, religious and gender differences are assets. Government officials, however, are responsible for the destiny of 46 million people in this nation.
Would you prefer diversity at the expense of competence? In government should only be the sharpest and the best sharks, those able to work 15 hours per day, just like Ararov said. If the best are men, let it be; if these are women, so be it.
I do not think that the Ukrainian government consists of the sharpest. However, the pursuit of gender balance should never stand above individual abilities, particularly when the country is going through hurdles. Who do you feel more comfortable leading your nation through crisis and war? I would say, in most cases, men.
The most ridiculous comments about Azarov’s caustic remark came from Ukrainian men. Dear Ukrainian men, you lived under a female prime minister for years; many of you even voted for her. You have appealed to the Ukrainian human rights ombudsman, Nina Karpacheva, to put an end to Azarov’s chauvinism. You are appealing to a woman in power to respond to discrimination against women in power. How ridiculous is that?
Many of you, men, served in the army. I doubt you would agree to lower military standards for the sake of gender diversity. Why would you do the same for government?
I am a Ukrainian woman myself and, by the age of 21, have been fortunate enough to achieve nearly everything I have desired. I am graduating from one of the most prestigious universities in Ukraine and got admitted to one of the most prestigious graduate schools in the world. I speak four languages and work for the leading English-language newspaper in the nation. I have never in my life felt any sexism or male chauvinism coming from Ukrainian men.
The existence of multiple feminist groups in Ukraine is an enigma to me. I don’t see any grounds for them in a nation where so many men are weak-willed drinkers or drug addicts or still can’t recover from the collapse of Soviet Union. This is a nation that has had a woman in most high posts in the nation, including the defense bodies.
Advice to Ukrainian men: If you are keen on fighting sexism, look around and maybe you’ll see a woman who needs your support more than your opinions on Azarov. Advice to Ukrainian women: Stop wasting your time on cheap shows and appeals. Work on yourself, as Ukraine has no more restrictions for personal development for women than it does for men. If you are capable of being in politics, you will be there. If you just like to criticize just out of personal dislike for politicians or just to promote the principle of diversity, ask yourself whether you really want the things you are so keenly fighting for.
Kyiv Post staff writer Nataliya Bugayova can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org