I. Korostashova Gender Legislation in Ukraine (1917–1919): the Way to the «Rule of Law». Historical and Legal Analysis

DOI: 10.20535/2307-5244.52.2021.236160

University of Customs and Finance (Dnipro, Ukraine)

The article is the result of original research and comprehensive content analysis,
regarding important historiographical publications and regulations (mostly
the Constitution), which were accepted in the early 1900’s, in particular in 1917–1919. This research covers a period in European history that includes the events
of the First World War, revolutions, coups d’etat, civil wars, which in the history
of Ukraine simultaneously became a period of the Ukrainian nation-building
attempts. During this period, gender legislation was first introduced in Ukraine.
In our article, an author presented a historical and legal analysis of gender
legislation introduced in Russia and Ukraine in 1917–1919; and an analysis of
the gender situation in Ukraine in the context of international and national processes.
Also, an author determined features of juridical consolidation of gender
equality for women and men in this period of history.
To develop the topic, an author used the following scientific methods: historical-
system method; historical-genetic method; comparative-historical method;
content analysis; analysis-discourse.
The purpose of the article was a historical and legal analysis of gender legislation
introduced in Russia and Ukraine in 1917–1919, and identification of
national characteristics and factors that influenced the process of legal consolidation
of gender equality in Ukraine in this period.
The author concluded that the inception and formation of the national idea of
giving women equal rights with men in political and social life dated back to the mid-
1850’s. Since then, in Ukrainian lands, women’s leadership was defined as a socio-political
phenomenon. Although in the early 1900’s, legislation in the Austro-Hungarian
and Russian empires enshrined gender inequality and discrimination against women.
From the mid-1900’s to the 1920’s, the ‘first wave of feminism’ accompanied
the popularization of liberal ideas in many countries around the world, and in
particular in Russia (which at that time included the Dnieper Ukraine), which
indicated the aggravation of the women’s issue during that period.
Changes in geopolitical and socio-economic conditions that took place in the
early 1900’s (World War I, the collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires,
the revolutionary events of 1917 in Russia and Ukraine, etc.) contributed
to the adoption of the gender legislation in Russia and Ukraine. Participation
of Ukrainian and Russian women in the First World War as officers and soldiers
had become a factor in the blurring of gender roles during wartime.
After the February Revolution, women’s revolutionary-feminist sentiments
had reached the highest degree of incandescence. The active public position of
women forced the Provisional Government of Russia (its positions were precarious
and needed electoral support) to look at women as on the subjects of active
and passive suffrage. All of this created the ground for the implementation of
gender legislation. As a result, on April 15, 1917, Ukraine, together with Russia,
became one of the first European countries in which women were given suffrage. The leaders and ideologists of the Central Council of the Ukrainian People’s
Republic went far beyond the idea of giving women only equal suffrage. They
developed the idea of gender equality and officially enshrined the equality of
women and men concerning all legal relations arising in the state in the norms
of the 1918 Constitution of the UPR (which, unfortunately, was not implemented).
Therefore, unlike other European countries, in April 1918, Ukraine became
almost the only country in the world where at the initial stage of state formation
the Constitution declared the equality of women and men for the entire scope of
rights. This was an unprecedented event in the history of constitutionalism and
the development of gender legislation of that period. This is explained both by
the special attitude to women, which was forming for a certain time in Ukrainian
society, and the social orientation of ideologues and leaders of the Central
Council of the UPR in building a new national democratic republic of equal in
all rights citizens. The decisive factor in this process was the active public position
of women, which confirmed the desires and needs of women to participate
in the social and political life, and development of the country. This had a strong
influence on the process of women’s emancipation and had destroyed the established
gender model of «domobud».
However, the defeat of the Ukrainian state formations (Hetmanate, otamanshchina,
the victory of the Bolshevik power in Dnieper Ukraine) and further changes
in the political accents of the Bolshevik government from gender to class struggle,
reflected in the 1919 USSR Constitution interrupted the legal consolidation
of women’s and men equality.
Women of Western Ukraine first received suffrage in October 1918 (Constitution
of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic). The 1919–1920 occupation
of Western Ukrainian lands led to the further development of gender legislation
in Western Ukrainian lands under the laws of the countries that occupied them
(Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Romania) before the reunification of Ukrainian
lands within the USSR (1939–1945).
Thus, from the norms of gender legislation introduced in Ukraine in 1917–1919,
at that time only the suffrage of women was realized. The beginning of equal rights
juridical consolidation for women and men around the world was due to the intensification
of liberal and feminist movements, but in Ukraine also due to of socialist
and of Ukrainian national political movement and under the influence of the doctrine
«the rule of law», which was further developed in the world and over time
became a basic principle of democratic states, and in particular, Ukraine.

Keywords: emancipation of women, gender legislation, the rule of law, gender
equality, rights of women, legal regulation, discrimination, juridical consolidation.


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