Gender equality Gender equality

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women

Up to 90% of doctors and social workers are women. They are at risk due to lack of personal protective equipment, overtime work without adequate compensation and transport restrictions. The number of cases of domestic violence, as well as the amount of domestic responsibilities, has increased. The majority of businesses affected by the pandemic and the economic crisis are micro-businesses and the self-employed. They are statistically dominated by women with limited financial security.

1. Evaluation of reform policies of the Parliament and Government during the period of September 2019 – June 2020 and their compliance with inclusivity and men’s and women’s rights as mentioned in the Toronto Principles (based on the analysis of the Government Program, the plans of the ministries and the adopted/rejected regulatory acts)

Agenda “Women, Peace, Security”

Ministries and central authorities are executing the National Action Plan to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 "Women, Peace, Security" by 2020.

In December 2019, the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Granting the Status and Social Guarantees to Individuals Participating in the Anti-Terrorist Operation” was adopted. According to the Law, female volunteers are officially recognized as veterans and receive the right to social guarantees equal to those of men.

Decentralization

In September 2019, the Ministry of Development of Communities and Territories of Ukraine approved the Gender Equality Strategy for 2019–2021. Among the main tools for implementing the Strategy, is gender-based budgeting (hereinafter - GBB) in communities based on gender profiles of the communities.

The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine has approved a rule according to which the main managers in the formation of indicators of budget programs should indicate the degree of providing for equal rights and opportunities for women and men, the benefits for society in terms of gender equality (amendments to the Order of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine "On Performance Indicators of the Budgetary Program" dated December 10, 2010 № 1536; Order “On State Budget Expenditure Reviews” dated October 23, 2019 № 446, which contains gender indicators in the form of a budget execution report).

Electoral reform

The Electoral Code, which entered into force on 1 January 2020, increased the responsibility for non-compliance with the gender quota. The quota was changed positively from 30% to practically 40% in parliamentary elections and elections to regional and city councils with the number of voters above 90 000. The Code does not provide for a mechanism for replacing a candidate in case of cancellation of his/her registration by a candidate of the same sex. In lower-level local elections, a quota of 30% will apply - without the requirement of setting the order of priority, which creates a risk of placing candidates mainly in the bottom part of the list.

The reduction of state funding on parliamentary parties due to the adoption on 2 October 2019 of amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Political Parties in Ukraine" has affected the existing mechanism to encourage parties to involve women.

Reform of labor legislation

In 2019, the Government introduced a Bill on Labor Law Reform (№ 2708), which violated national legislation, including Article 22 of the Constitution of Ukraine on the impossibility of limiting the existing rights in the adoption of new laws, the principle of equality of rights of women and men in the labor market, and did not comply with Ukraine’s obligations under the Association Agreement with the European Union. On 4 March 2020, the project was withdrawn due to the resignation of the Government.

Education

The Law of Ukraine "On Full General Secondary Education" was adopted. It contains an article on the prohibition of discrimination in education, and refers to the Law of Ukraine "On Education" in determining the principles of state education policy, including research, international obligations, human rights and freedoms, the principle of equal opportunities for all, non-interference of religious organizations in the education process.

The Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (hereinafter - CMU) updated the Procedure for professional development of pedagogical and scientific-pedagogical workers, which gave the right to choose the subject of professional development in areas defined by the Law of Ukraine "On Education", including those related to equality, human rights, awareness on equal rights and opportunities.

Health care and social sphere

Provisions on gender equality are enshrined in the State Strategy for Combating HIV / AIDS, Tuberculosis and Viral Hepatitis for the period by 2030, approved by the Government in November 2019, which indicates the need to measure gender inequality in access to services.

In 2020, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine approved by an order:

  • Methodical recommendations on the inclusion in collective agreements and provisional agreements aimed at ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men in labor relations;
  • Instruction on integration of gender approaches in the development of regulations;
  • Guidelines for assessing gender impact of sectoral reforms.

Media reform

Combating discrimination and/or hate speech in the media and other areas is not set as a priority for the Government or Parliament.

During this period, the Parliament of Ukraine submitted bills that increase the responsibility for discrimination on the grounds of sex in the media/advertising (the bill "On Media" № 2693); “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Advertising’ on Combating Discrimination on the Grounds of Sex" № 3427.

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2. The most pressing challenges and problems

Agenda “Women, Peace, Security”

  • Military conflict has a disproportionate negative impact on women. For example, the majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are women.
  • The participation of women at all levels of decision-making and institutions in different aspects of the peace process has increased only symbolically and is irregular.
  • The security sector does not sufficiently take into account the problems of inadequate service conditions for women, combating sexual harassment and violence (according to women's veterans' NGOs).
  • Action plans and draft regulations that are publicly available do consider for the differences between the needs of women and men in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.

Decentralization

  • Lack of consistent involvement of gender experts and representatives of women's organizations in expert groups and public councils at the local level.
  • Lack of appropriate statistical indicators to account for the needs of different groups of the population while creating strategies and action plans for communities and regions.
  • Reduced funding for initiatives that promote gender equality in communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Electoral reform

  • Low level of political representation and access to decision-making for women.
  • The governing bodies and local party branches are mostly headed by men.
  • Excessive funding of electoral campaigns and excessive amounts of election bail disproportionately affect women (at the time of preparation of this brief, bills № 2769 and № 3485 were adopted in the first reading, in particular, the latter on reducing the size of the election bail in four times).

Reform of labor legislation

  • In 2019, the gender pay gap constituted almost 23%, for pensions - 32%. Among the unemployed, 52.4% are women. Only 60.4% of women of working age are employed for paid work.
  • Vertical segregation in the workplace: women hold 23% of management positions. Horizontal segregation in the labor market: women mostly work in the public sector, in lower paid and lower-level positions.
  • Tendency to weaken women's labor rights and social guarantees in the proposed reform of labor legislation in 2019.
  • Lack of protection mechanisms against harassment and violence at work.
  • Childcare leave is not distributed between parents.           

Education

  • Educational standards, programs, teaching materials in education broadcast gender stereotypes and prejudices, contain manifestations of discrimination.
  • Pedagogical and scientific-pedagogical workers do not undergo mandatory non-discriminatory training in education.
  • Preschool education institutions cover a decreasing number of children, which has a negative impact on the employment of mothers and the economic well-being of families.

Health care and social sphere

  • The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated health and social problems and challenged the continuation of reforms. Some medical facilities were closed due to the infection of medical workers (mostly women), others provided only a limited range of medical services.
  • The pandemic deepened inequalities, and economic instability induced women to save on contraceptives and drugs. Women and girls risk losing the ability to plan the birth of children, protect their health and be independent in decision-making.

Media reform

  • The definition of “gender discrimination in media/advertising” is not regulated; the  mechanism of prosecuting the producers of discriminatory media content and advertising is ineffective.
  • There are no national recommendations on non-discriminatory and gender-sensitive language, balanced representation of both sexes in the media, “visibility” of people facing multiple forms of discrimination as experts and heroes, coverage of gender-based violence and domestic violence.
  • The use of femininities is not regulated.

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3. Recommendations for priority actions in 2020-2021:

Agenda “Women, Peace, Security”

  1. To add new target groups to the process of development of the National Action Plan 1325 for the period of 2021 and the implementation, monitoring of the agenda "Women, Peace, Security". Such new target groups should include widows, veterans, IDPs, wives of veterans, women victims of torture, women prisoners and women members of the families of prisoners, etc.
  2. To introduce systematic training on the agenda "Women, Peace, Security" for representatives in industry and local institutions, training centers for professionals and managers at various levels of government.
  3. To adopt amendments to the legislation on the prevention, protection and counteraction of sexual violence related to the conflict

Decentralization

  1. To ensure the inclusion of the gender component in the strategy of regional development for the period 2021-2026.
  2. To insure implementation and monitoring of state building codes "Inclusiveness of buildings and structures".
  3. To include a gender component in the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers on methods of forming capable territorial communities.
  4. To ensure full implementation of the orders of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine on GBB. To analyze the legislation on local self-government and include the consideration for the gender component in the elaboration of local development programs in villages, settlements, city councils.  

Electoral reform

  1. To ensure the effectiveness of the gender quota in terms of replacing a candidate for the MP position with a candidate of the same sex in case of cancellation of his/her registration and the order in the lists at elections at all levels.
  2. To reduce the election deposit.
  3. To restore the amount of financial incentives for parliamentary parties that promote a more balanced representation of women.
  4. To amend the Law of Ukraine “On Political Parties in Ukraine” on defining the areas of use of public funding by adding the promotion of gender equality.

Reform of labor legislation

  1. To prevent limiting the existing rights and guarantees for employees, while developing the reform of labor legislation in Ukraine; to take into account the principle of equal rights and opportunities for women and men. To identify women's economic empowerment as one of the priorities for the reform.
  2. To provide legal instruments that will promote the implementation of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
  3. To ratify the conventions of the International Labor Organization No.171 (On Night-Time Work), № 183 (On Maternity Protection), No.189 (Convention on Domestic Workers), № 190 (On Combating Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), harmonize national legislation with them, take measures to denounce Convention No.45 (On the Prohibition of the Work of Women in Underground Work).
  4. To regulate the legislative provision of labor safety in the face of difficult, harmful and dangerous working conditions, as well as conditions of increased risk to life and health.
  5. To integrate the EU Directive "On work-life balance of parents and guardians" into legislation.
  6. Adopt a draft law on amendments to some legislative acts to ensure equal opportunities for mother and father to care for a child (No.3695 dated 19 June 2020). 

Education

      1. Take into account the gender component, the principles of non-discrimination, eliminate stereotypes about women and men in the development of:

  • laws "On Preschool Education", "On Adult Education", "On Vocational Education";
  • state standards of preschool, vocational, basic and specialized secondary, higher education, adult education and relevant educational programs;
  • professional standards in education.
      2. To adopt:

  • strategy for gender equality in education;
  • provisions on anti-discrimination examination of educational content and educational space
  • a comprehensive action plan of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (hereafter – MES) to fulfill obligations under international documents and platforms in the field of gender equality.
      3. To strengthen the internal mechanism for ensuring gender equality in the MES system.

      4. To adopt a bill on amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Education" to ensure the quality of educational literature (No.3900 dated July 17, 2020).

Health care and social sphere

  1. To  ensure equal access for women and girls to medical care of high quality and financial protection in the event of illness or temporary disability, with a special focus on vulnerable women, rural women, and IDP women (those living in the "gray zone"), as well as those who living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV), tuberculosis (TB), drug addicts, those who are in conflict with the law, minorities.
  2. To provide a comprehensive study of the availability of medical services, including services for the protection of women's reproductive health, to regulate the issue of surrogacy.
  3. To intensify reforms in the social sphere:
  • to develop in the cities and communities a network of specialized services for victims of domestic and gender-based violence, medical and social care centers, mobile teams, day centers and shelters, as well as other forms of care in medical institutions;
  • to legislate the possibility of providing social services at the expense of local budgets to public organizations and charitable foundations;
  • ensure access to social services for vulnerable women, women with children and women from rural areas.

Media reform

  1. To amend the Law of Ukraine "On Advertising" to combat gender-based discrimination.
  2. To account for the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of sex and other characteristics and to establish sanctions for committing the relevant offense in the Law of Ukraine "On Media".
  3. To instruct the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting to develop standards for ensuring a balanced representation of both sexes in the media as experts and heroes, gender-sensitive speech, coverage of domestic and gender-based violence. To introduce an appropriate mechanism of sanctions.
  4. To develop and approve a strategy for gender-sensitive and inclusive speech, the use of femininities.      

General recommendations:

  1. To strengthen the National Mechanism of Gender Equality by training employees responsible for the implementation and coordination of gender policy in all central executive bodies (hereinafter - CEBs), create advisory bodies to CEBs on gender equality, develop gender competencies of CEBs professionals, local governments. To expand channels for advocating the inclusion of gender component into the reforms
  2. To approve in the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine the order of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine "On approval of Methodical recommendations for assessing the gender impact of sectoral reforms" dated April 14, 2020 No.257.
  3. To strengthen resistance to anti-gender movements.
  4. To strengthen monitoring of the implementation of national policies on gender equality.
  5. To introduce a mechanism to assess the impact of reforms on women and men, including those facing multiple forms of discrimination.
  6. To involve women's organizations and gender experts in planning and implementing the reforms at various levels.
  7. To develop a mechanism for including the gender component in the development of the state budget and financial-economic justification of the legislation.
  8. To determine the obligation to conduct legal examination in terms of gender of draft laws by all subjects of legislative initiative.
  9. To adopt the order of the Cabinet of Ministers "On data collection for monitoring of gender equality".
  10. To ratify Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
  11. To strengthen monitoring and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, including through accession to the Biarritz Partnership.
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