Maryna is a young, strong-minded woman on her way up the slippery business slope. Oksana is your typical housewife who enjoys looking after her family. In a world where tradition has begun to take a backseat to the accumulation of capital, is Ukraine losing its Ďwomen are better off in the kitchení mentality?
Thanks for joining us ladies. Letís jump right in, shall we! Ukraine, historically, has been a country in which women Ďdefendedí the household; whose responsibilities included cleaning, cooking, and looking after her husband and children. What are your thoughts on this type of existence today?
Oksana: It is, in fact, the reason women are here Ė to dedicate ourselves to our families.
Maryna: Sorry, but I disagree with this. I do not plan to dedicate myself to the household 100%. There should be equality between myself and my future husband. Of course, I realise there wonít be a 50/50 split Ė I am a woman after all and was brought up to ensure my house is well kept. But he can and should contribute as well. A lot has changed in the way women are treated these days. Not only are we able, but we are capable of working outside of the house, so why should I stay at home when I know I can evolve and progress too?
Does that mean that if you dedicate yourself to your profession you lose something in your relationships at home? Or can you combine both?
Oksana: They can be combined up to a certain point. But I believe there are pitfalls in this combination.
Maryna: Of course itís difficult, but it can be done. That said, time needs to be devoted to your profession if you want be successful, which necessarily has an effect on the family. I, for example, am in a relationship at the moment but would certainly move to another city if it meant being promoted. My career is important and I am not ready to sacrifice all that I have worked for just so that I can have a ring on my finger. Once I have achieved all that I have set out for myself, then Iíll think about starting a family.
Oksana: To me, family is far more important. I made the conscious decision early on not to work Ė to dedicate myself to my husband and child.
Maryna: Does that mean that you would like to work, but having a family keeps you from doing so?
Oksana: Absolutely not. I could easily find a job, but then why have kids? Why plan to have a family if youíre too busy to watch them grow, to play with them, to raise themÖ
Maryna: Okay, that works for now, but what will you do once they are all grown-up? What then?
Oksana: I understand your point. But my main objective, my purpose, is to make a good man out of my little boy. Moreover, no one knows what awaits us tomorrow, so whatís the point of worrying about whatís going to happen in ten years?
Maryna: Iím not judging you. But I do believe you should think and plan for the future. Once your son is grown and goes off to live his own life, a life that includes you less and less, what will you do with yourself then?
Oksana: I will still have my family and my household. And if, at that time, my family requires that I work, then I will find a job.
Maryna: Fair enough. But donít forget, many people work for more than just money. Having a job broadens your horizons. Donít you think it would be better if you went out and continued to educate yourself so that you could help educate your son?
Oksana: Why do you think that just because I donít work I donít continue to educate myself? I meet new people everyday, whenever I take him to school or extra curricular activities. In addition, we go to the theatre together, watch movies and cartoons together too. My job involves taking care of my family that doesnít mean that I donít communicate with people!
Maryna: That sounds too altruistic for me. And what about your personal space? Everyone needs time to themselves.
Oksana: I like spending time with my son, thatís all I need.
Maryna: Staying at home, not going out, your development is stunted. The world is not static, it is constantly changing and you are missing it.
Oksana: I have my own world, and I donít really care what happens around me. There is so much violence that happens in the world that honestly, there was a time I stopped watching TV altogether. But as I said, I go out to the theatre, and I read books, so I continue to develop even if I am at home.
Maryna: But thatís an incredibly passive social position. Isnít it better when a childís parents, both parents, have their own viewpoints on life from their own experiences, so that they give their children a well-rounded outlook on life? You have to instil as much as you can at an early age so that kids know they have the opportunity to make their life their own. Moreover, if you work, the chances are that you are in a better financial position and can then afford a better education for your children. I, for example, made the decision to climb to the top of the career ladder, not only to be able to provide for my family down the road, but so that my kids will look up to me as a role model.
Going back just for a moment, does that mean you want to be financially independent from you husband?
Maryna: Well, yes, financial independence is one of my goals. I want to be able to buy the things I want, whenever I want, and not have to ask my husband if I can have some money; let alone report to him on what Iíve bought.
Oksana: I do not report anything to my husband. We have a family budget in our household, the money from which can be used on anything Ė without needing to ask permission.
Maryna: Okay, letís assume that at some point in the future, you find yourself single again. What would you do then?
Oksana: Iím sure I would be able to forget about the comfortable life I lead now, and do what I need to do. I would work, I would make ends meet, whether thatís at a job making 5,000hrv/month or 1,000hrv.
Maryna: For me a child is the last luxury I can afford. Itís important for me to know that I can provide for myself first, and only after that can I think of building a family life.
Oksana: Sounds to me like women who only focus on their careers are pretty lonely. Are you not afraid that while you are at busy at work, you are losing some of the best moments in life?
Maryna: Having a career does not mean a life of solitude. But itís important to find the right person who understands a womanís desire to have a career. And by the right person, I mean someone who is happy to build a life together, someone with whom our future and the future of our children is collectively secure.
Oksana: When are you planning to have children then, if you spend so much time at work?
Maryna: As I mentioned earlier, children for me will be the last luxury. I want to reach a certain place in my life and only then will I think about having kids. I have goals, things I want to accomplish. And, should I get pregnant before I am ready, I can and will hire a nanny so that I can go back to work.
Oksana: Children need their mothers not nannies! And once you decide to have them, they should become the centre of your world. You should not be thinking of money at this time, but your family.
Maryna: (smiles) Youíre living in a fairytale. And I do not work for money. I work so that my future family will have a better life.
Oksana: And if you fail?
Maryna: Of course, that will be my own personal misfortune. But why would anyone think of only the possible failures, the negatives? Thatís a weak point of view. You should always think positively. Focus on your goals, and continue working toward them until you have achieved them Ė no matter what. I believe that the country is facing tough times right now, and as far as kids go, maybe this isnít the right time to be bringing them into the world without some sort of stable and secure safety net.
Oksana: Well, I still believe that a womenís role is at home.
Maryna: And I donít.