Ukraine steps up efforts to get more women into the workforce


When more women work, economies grow. Advocacy efforts towards this goal paid off recently when the Government of Ukraine in September adopted a measure to boost women’s employment, through the State Programme on Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men for 2013-2016, developed by the Ministry of Social Policy with civil society and international organizations.

According to the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, Ukraine ranks 64th in terms of women’s income level, 22nd in terms of women’s education, 34th on economic participation and opportunities, and a mere 119th in the realm of political empowerment. 

According to government sources, 55 per cent of unemployed people in Ukraine are women. “Unfortunately nowadays in Ukraine, men are in better conditions than women in most spheres of social life. This situation is unacceptable and we need to change it,” said Natalia Korolevska, Ukraine’s Minister of Social Policy. 

She emphasized the low representation of women in executive and legislative branches, with only 9.4 per cent in Parliament and the wage gap between women and men, which also remains high, nearing 22.7 per cent in the first half of 2013. According to the Minister, the development of leadership skills among women will be a crucial area of work, to promote their active participation in business and decision-making processes.

The new State programme will introduce specific measures to reduce the wage gap by: combating  gender stereotypes about female and male professionals; building the capacity of State employees and promoting qualified women to higher-paid sectors; raising employers’ awareness about equal pay for equal work to reduce the wage gap; and increasing women’s capacities, leadership and business skills.

The programme will also feature awareness-raising campaigns on equal distribution of family responsibilities, in particular, promoting the rights of men to parental leave; building capacity of employers and trade unions to provide flexible working conditions for women and men who take care of children under three years of age; and developing a model of parents’ reintegration in the workplace after childcare leave.

UN Women played a key role in the lead-up to the adoption of the State programme. The organization provided technical and expert support in formulating specific actions and indicators for the Programme, taking into account recommendations from civil society, gender advocates and international organizations. UN Women organized broad consultations bringing together Government officials, gender experts and representatives of international organizations to design and finalize the State programme. In early September 2013, UN Women also mobilized civil society organizations to write a letter to the Cabinet of Ministries and Administration of the President of Ukraine to appeal for accelerated adoption of the State programme on equal rights and opportunities. 

“By adopting this programme, the Ukrainian Government takes ownership over gender equality policy, translating it into a prioritized results-oriented operational programme with national and local budget allocations,” says UN Women National Programme Coordinator in Ukraine, Oksana Kisselyova. “The programme is a step forward to Ukraine’s further democratization and European integration.”