Women’s economic empowerment

The Donetsk Women’s Congress
Photo: UN Women Ukraine

In Ukraine, there has been a considerable gender gap in labor market participation and remuneration. According to the pre-COVID-19 national data provided by the State Statistics Service of Ukraine (2018), men’s economic activity rate was around 69 percent, compared to female’s 57 percent activity rate. The pandemic further exacerbated economic disparities between men and women, as the labor force participation rate decreased to 56 percent for women and 68.5 percent for men in 2020. Female employees in Ukraine earned on average significantly less than their male colleagues. In the ILO Global Wage Report 2018/19 on gender pay inequalities, the gender pay gap for Ukraine is at 32.0 per cent. Women, especially those living in rural areas, are also more frequently employed in informal work, hence insecure and less protected jobs, than men.

Women also remain constrained from achieving the highest leadership positions in economic organizations. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, women headed only 29 percent of all legal entities at the beginning of 2021, including 25 percent of private enterprises, 21 percent of farms, and 13 percent of public enterprises.

Women’s economic empowerment
Photo: UN Women Ukraine/Vitaliy Shevelev

Access to livelihoods paid work and sustainable income gained new urgency for millions of women displaced by the war. According to the Rapid Gender Analysis conducted by UN Women and CARE International in April 2022 employment rates and access to employment in both the private and public sectors have dramatically decreased for women and men all over Ukraine. Interviews in Ukraine revealed that income has been one of the main areas impacted by the war for both women and men (mentioned by 28 percent of female respondents and 33 percent of male respondents). In addition, many women have been left to care for their families on their own whether due to their husband being conscripted or deceased, leaving many women responsible for the income of their household. The situation of women with children (majority of refugees) who left the country has been equally challenging, as opportunities to find a job and sustainable income as well as services for children have been limited.

UN Women introduces a pilot initiative aimed at empowering women in the workplace, marketplace, and the community, in partnership with the private sector, launched at the beginning of 2022. With the war, the main effort is made to support employment and income generation for women affected by the war in Ukraine. UN Women established partnerships with over 40 companies in the private sector in Ukraine under the HeForShe solidarity movement in past five years. In 2021, for the second year in a row, Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) have been promoted also in Ukraine through the UN Women-led HeForShe Congress.