Leila ZHDANOVA, Ukraine
PROJECT: Enhanced Engagement of Civil Society in Monitoring of Implementation of the UN CEDAW in Ukraine

Specialized in gender equality, migration and access to justice, Leila is a human rights and rule of law expert with more than 10 years of professional experience in Ukraine and abroad. 

Currently, she occupies the positions of a Board Member for a Civic Organisation ‘Desyate Kvitnya’ and an Independent Consultant on the national and international levels. Leila has a demonstrated professional experience in working for international organizations as she served as a Human Rights Officer for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR, Bishkek) and Project Coordinator for the Council of Europe Department for Justice and Legal Co-operation (CoE, Strasbourg). Previously she worked as a Lawyer on Protection/Border Monitoring for the UNHCR Regional Protection Programme for Belarus, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine covering Southern Ukraine. In addition to her jobs, Leila has been working with dedication for numerous civic initiatives and advocacy actions in her city and country using her tireless energy and creativity for pushing for social change. She takes pride in living in a diverse community and enjoys the unique qualities and strength it brings to her home city. 

Leila holds an LL.M. degree in International Law from the National University ‘Odesa Law Academy’. She is a certified mediator. 

“The fellowship definitely contributed to my personal and career development through research, online training and professional network. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed my modus operandi, I managed to modify project activities and still reach out to civic activists across the city. Quite frankly, it was my first experience in organizing meetings through the Zoom/Teams platforms, however, this journey was exciting; I took up new technical skills that increased my tech literacy. As of today, I plan to continue cooperation with La Strada International, Russian and Georgian experts to promote the action objectives through the future joint projects.” Leila ZHDANOVA

Enhanced Engagement of Civil Society in Monitoring of Implementation of the UN CEDAW in Ukraine

Leila’s action aimed to enhance the engagement of civil society in monitoring the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (UN CEDAW) and recommendations of the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). To ensure the holistic approach to the CSO involvement in CEDAW implementation, the project covered the following aspects: Alternative reporting and individual complaints procedures (elaboration on the joint alternative report to CEDAW in collaboration with the UN Women and the NGO Monitoring Group) & educational and community outreach activities. To deliver high-quality online training on gender and human rights, Leila engaged international experts and field-professionals. Also, to inform the larger audience about the application procedure and criteria of the individual complaints to the UN Women’s Rights Committee, she developed a short educational video in Ukrainian and disseminated it throughout the country. 

The project delivered 6 webinars and raised awareness and advocacy capacity of more than 130 non-governmental representatives from Ukraine, Eastern Partnership and other Eastern European and Central Asian Countries on Women’s Rights and UN CEDAW. Also, the action engaged civil society activists and international experts from Denmark, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Kyrgyzstan contributing to the development of the recommendations. In the long term, the project beneficiaries are equipped with the necessary skills to strengthen their advocacy for women’s rights by applying the UN human rights instruments, more precisely the UN CEDAW Optional Protocol. The project delivered the Joint Alternative Report to CEDAW, educational video and informational package that serves as the instrument and direction for better protection of women who are victims of gender-based discrimination.

Video on how to apply with individual complaints to UN CEDAW  (in Ukrainian – “Як звернутися в Комітет CEDAW”):

Fellowship Programs 2020
Country Ukraine
Areas of Interest Advocacy
Topics Democratic participation
Human rights
Judiciary & legal system
Project duration May 2020 - December 2020