President Zelensky said he plans to develop a bill that would regulate the responsibilities of the first lady. During a working trip to Khmelnytsky, he confessed to Ukrainian Truth reporters that people often treat the first lady unfairly, behave unethically, and that his wife often comes up against groundless criticism.
In support of his words Zelensky told the following story.
"Where is my 300 percent benefit?"
“We had a story that we didn’t want to talk about. She (first lady, - ed.) wrote letters of support to all doctors who became ill with coronavirus. And even to all those who did not treat patients with coronavirus but simply fell ill. She wrote letters, but didn’t want to make PR on that. "
"An anti PR was made by a man who answered: what kind of letters are these? Where are my 300 percent (of allowances - ed.)?" said the president.
At the same time, he clarified that this doctor could not receive this 300% allowance because he did not save people from coronavirus.
"This allowance can only be received by doctors who fought with coronavirus, who risked their lives," Zelensky explained.
In his opinion, this man behaved unethically and insultingly, because the allowances and salary do not depend on the first lady.
“After this incident, I realized that the problem is that there is no legislation that governs the institution of the first lady. I am sure of it now. The first lady, at least in the future, should have responsibilities. I think so. I’m talking seriously ... Then people, choosing a president, will understand what the first lady will do," the president said.
Zelensky stated that together with his wife Olena and her assistants, he plans to develop a bill that will regulate the status of the first lady. He emphasized: "No budget funding is needed here."
The idea is not new
Paris 2017. French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the adoption of the charter of the First Lady, which would allow the official establishment of this post and allocate funds for it from the budget.
The idea of the new head of state did not receive mass support. On the contrary, its opponents distributed a petition, which over a short time was signed by more than 200 thousand people.
"There is no reason for the head of state’s wife to receive funds from the state budget. Brigitte Macron currently has a team of two to three employees, as well as two secretaries and two security guards, and that’s enough," said then petition initiator Thierry Paul Vallett.
As a result, the Champs Elysees refused to grant Brigitte Macron the new official status of the first lady and decided to confine itself to the “transparency charter” - a document that determines the status of the wife of the president.
According to him, the first lady can accompany her husband during official visits, as well as international summits; take part in national and international events aimed at combating climate change or violence against women and children.
The head of state’s wife should also oversee receptions at the Champs Elysees; respond to letters arriving to her and to requests from French and foreign figures; support activities that will enhance France’s international influence.
The wife of the French president has two assistants at her disposal, and she does not receive any remuneration for her activities. It is spelled out in the charter.
It should be noted that on June 17 last year, the Zelensky couple was on a visit to France, during which Olena Zelenska invited Brigitte Macron to visit Ukraine.
In a press release following the meeting, it was reported that the first lady of France is engaged in communication with civil society in the fields of education, health, protecting the rights of people with special needs, culture and cultural heritage, protecting children, combating school bullying, gender equality, women's rights and environmental protection.
In addition, Brigitte Macron actively communicates with the Parisian intellectual community and leading cultural figures.
First Lady is informal position
In the United States, where the term First Lady was first used, this post is also not official. And nowhere in the world is has the official status.
The first woman to be called First Lady was Harriet Lane, the niece of 15th US President James Buchanan (the only lifelong bachelor among US Presidents).
However, this term received universal recognition only after almost 30 years - in 1877, when Lucy Webb Hayes was named so in the report on the inauguration of the 19th President Rutherford Hayes.
In countries where a woman holds a leadership position, there is a male equivalent to this title - First Gentleman.
Such a title, for example, received Edgar Preca, husband of former President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preka, as well as husband of the first female President of Ireland Mary Robinson.