Gender equality is at the very heart of human rights and United Nations (UN) values. A fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter adopted by world leaders in 1945 is "equal rights of men and women", and protecting and promoting women's human rights is the responsibility of all States.

Ukraine has taken the key international commitments on gender equality. The country adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), joined the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action (BPfA) of the 4th World Conference for Women (1995) and ratified key human rights treaties, including Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1980) and its Optional Protocol. The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, signed in 2014, entails a commitment to ensure equal opportunities for women and men in em­ployment, education, training, the economy, and in society and decision-making. Gender equality is enshrined in the Ukrainian Constitution. The new State Social Programme on Equal Rights and Opportunities of Women and Men for the period up to 2021 looks to strengthen the institutional mechanism for gender equality with an integrated approach to addressing the institutional barriers to gender equality. Ukraine’s policy and legislative framework on gender equality also includes the">Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan adopted in 2015, which aims to ensure equal rights and opportunities for women and men in all areas of public life. Adoption by the Government of the National Action Plan for Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is also a commendable step towards implementation of the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda in Ukraine. Additionally, in 2017 Ukraine revised its legislation on preventing domestic violence, criminalizing it in order to implement the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), which still hasn’t been ratified yet.

However, despite these existing gender equality and women’s em­powerment frameworks, Ukraine still faces challenges affecting the enjoyment of equal opportunities and rights by women in general and those facing compound discrimination in particular. The root causes can be found in patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes, but also in deeply rooted systemic gaps which have not been addressed. These include weak rule of law, low capacity of the institutional mechanisms for gender equality and lack of political will.

Some of the examples of systemic gender inequality in Ukraine include low level of participation by Ukrainian women in political and civic processes, especially in higher positions, patriarchal culture and deeply entrenched gender stereotypes, widespread gender-based violence etc. The ongoing reforms pay marginal attention to gender equality, the national and international commitments on gender equality and women’s human rights, as well as the new gender equality priorities caused by the conflict.

The conflict and the profound security, social, economic and political crisis have deepened the already existing gender inequalities and created new challenges for protection and realisation of women’s rights in Ukraine. The gender-specific aspects of particular concern at present include, but are not limited to: entrenched gender stereotypes and discrimination, which have deepened as a result of the armed conflict and place a disproportionately high austerity burden on women and physical risk on men; mounting instances of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among combatants and ex-combatants and rising domestic violence; discrimination against internally displaced women, girls, men and boys; and limited participation of women in decision making at all levels.

Promoting gender equality as a driver of sustainable country development, the UN System in Ukraine supports government, parliament and civil society to ensure the political, social and economic participation of women, to accelerate empowerment of women and strengthen their role in national reforms processes, to facilitate Ukraine’s adherence to international treaty obligations and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) is committed to support Ukraine in meeting its obligations on gender equality and women’s rights under the international normative framework on gender equality and women’s empowerment, including but not limited to the following:

  • 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that human rights play a central role in the development and gender equality is crucial for achieving SDGs with strong emphasis on addressing inequality and discrimination applying the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘reaching the furthest behind first’.
  • 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development uses a twin-track approach where gender equality and empowerment of women and girls were defined as a stand-alone goal (Goal # 5) as well as a cross-cutting issue with relevant targets under all other goals with obligation to collect data disaggregated by sex and age.
  • In nationalized by Ukraine SDGs, gender equality is integrated in 10 of 17 Goals, 25 out of 86 targets and 45 out of 172 indicators;

Beijing Platform for Action. Adopted by governments at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, this document sets forth governments’ commitments to enhance women’s rights.

Member states reaffirmed and strengthened the platform in 2000 during the global five-year review of progress, and pledged to accelerate its implementation during the 10-year review in 2005, the 15-year review in 2010, and the 20-year review in 2015;

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Concluding Observations of the Eighth Periodic Report of Ukraine were provided by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to Ukraine on 3 March 2017. They highlight the existing gaps and identify the actions required for Ukraine to address issues related to women’s human rights and represent the road map for the implementation of the CEDAW during the coming four years before the next state report;

United Nations Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security (UNSCRs 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2242). The set of documents presents a legal and political framework acknowledging the importance of the participation of women and the inclusion of gender perspectives in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning, peacekeeping operations, post-conflict peacebuilding and governance;

ILO Conventions. The following international labour standards on gender equality in the world of work and economic empowerment of women were ratified by Ukraine:

  • No. 111- Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958;
  • No. 100- Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951;
  • No. 156- Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981;
  • No. 183- Maternity Protection Convention, 2000, and No. 103 - Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952.

The UN Gender Theme Group (UN GTG) is an interagency coordination mechanism to strengthen the performance of the UNCT on gender equality by providing technical support and expertise on gender mainstreaming and coordination on programming and advocacy issues within the United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPF).

The GTG provides technical guidance to support the collective efforts of UN Agencies to accelerate mainstreaming of gender perspective into all UNCT operation and thematic coordination mechanisms, inter-alia, the UNPF pillars, paying a precise attention to the most acute gender inequalities in the particular spheres. For example, under:

  • Pillar 1 “Sustainable economic growth, environment and employment” the UN Ukraine works to reduce the gender pay gap, promote decent work conditions for men and women and equal sharing of child care and domestic responsibilities etc.
  • Pillar 2 “Equitable access to quality and inclusive services & social protection” the UN Ukraine addresses the gender dimension of the HIV epidemic as well as prioritizes combatting adverse social norms, attitudes and stereotypes, addressing limited access to services among women from vulnerable groups etc.
  • Pillar 3 “Democratic governance, rule of law and civic participation” the UN Ukraine works to bring more attention to gender equality in the national reform agenda, look at low representation of women in at all levels of decision making by promoting introduction of gender quotas, looks at discriminatory provisions in the national legislation etc.
  • Pillar 4 “Human security, social cohesion and recovery with a particular focus on Eastern Ukraine” among other things UN Ukraine works on the issues of gender-based violence (GBV), conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

GTG also supports enhancing inter-agency coordination on gender equality. It is a common forum for all UN agencies, funds and programmes for sharing of gender-specific information and experiences. The group strives for establishment of an effective partnership and dialogue between UN, Government, Parliament and the civil society in the area of gender equality and women’s rights in Ukraine.

Fast Facts

  • Women make up 12.1% in the Parliament; 12.5 % of the Cabinet of Ministers and 16.7% of senior governmental officials at the highest level (Category A positions) (Source).
  • Women make up 8.5% of service personnel in the armed forces, 5.3% of officers and 9.4% of soldiers and sergeants.
  • Women’s participation in the labour market is low, 55.7%, compared to 69.0% for men in 2017 (Source).
  • Gender wage gap comprised 25% in 2016 and 21% in 2017 reaching 40% in some economic activities (Source).
  • 90.6% of rape survivors and 73.5 % of domestic violence survivors are women (Source);
  • Women make up 58% out of 1.7 million internally displaced persons (Source).
  • Older women account for 74% of the conflict-affected older peo­ple, including IDPs (Source).
  • 22% of women aged 15-49 experience some type of physical violence or sexual violence (Source).
  • 76.5% of survivors in crimes related to trafficking in persons are women.

ILO Gender Equality-related publications

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