Armed conflict and austerity top serious issues facing women in Ukraine

Social and economic crisis, on-going armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and government austerity measures reinforce Ukraine’s gender imbalances and lead to the feminization of poverty, according to participants of a high-level meeting in Kiev.

Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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Ms. Galyna Skipalska, Head of Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health, Mr. Serhiy Ustymenko, Deputy Minister of Social Policy on European Integration, Ms. Maryna Roudenko, member of  Information Consultative Women's Centre  at the Round Table “Follow up to the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women: Women’s Empowerment in the context of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” Photo: UNFPA / Katerina Kononyuk

In a round table follow up to the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60), armed conflict, austerity and internally displaced women and girls topped the list of most serious local issues facing women in Ukraine.

The meeting in Kiev took place only two months after CSW60 discussions in New York that focused on keeping women and girls at the forefront of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This new 15-year global development roadmap was adopted by Ukraine and all UN Member States in September 2015. Its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include SDG 5, a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and gender-sensitive targets across 11 other SDGs.

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Participants of the Round Table “Follow up to the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women: Women’s Empowerment in the context of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Photo: UNFPA / Katerina Kononyuk

Government, civil society and international organization representatives attending the Kiev meeting, organised by UN Women and UNFPA and hosted by the Ministry of Social Policy, agreed that many of the problems discussed in New York at the CSW60 were not only relevant to Ukraine but had lately been aggravated in the country.

Social and economic crisis, on-going armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and government austerity measures reinforce Ukraine’s gender imbalances and lead to the feminization of poverty, according to participants.

This means disproportionate job losses by women, lack of access to medical, educational and social services, an increase in domestic and sexual violence including cases related to armed conflict, and a reinforcing of gender stereotypes.

Participants stressed that armed conflict disproportionately affect women and girls and that challenges faced by internally displaced women must be addressed. Women urgently need to join peace-building processes so their needs and interests are reflected in humanitarian assistance planning and in development strategies.

Equal pay for equal work and women’s access to land, property, economic resources, new technology, financial services and decent work are crucial to empower women and girls in Ukraine.

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Dr. Oksana Kisselyova, UN Women National Coordinator, Mr. Mr. Serhiy Ustymenko, Deputy Minister of Social Policy on European Integration, Mr. Caspar Peek, UNFPA Representative in Ukraine, Ms. Yulia Troyan, translator, Ms.  Halyna Meshcheryakova, facilitator, at the Round Table. Photo: UNFPA / Katerina Kononyuk

Mr. Serhiy Ustymenko, Deputy Minister of the Social Policy on European Integration, reaffirmed the national government’s commitment to gender equality and empowering all women and girls. He said that women play a vital role as agents of development and that ensuring gender equality is both a matter of social justice and necessary for sustainable development of society.

Participants reaffirmed their readiness to combat all forms of discrimination against women and girls and accelerate progress towards gender equality. In addition, they urged adopting effective laws, implementing goals-oriented policy, developing institutional mechanisms, collecting gender-disaggregated data and ensuring adequate financing.

Women leaders attending the meeting urged Ukraine to set concrete targets for gender equality and equal opportunities for women and girls as it plans national implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The round table produced a gender equality goals document that will be finalized after public consultation and then sent to Parliament, the Cabinet of Ministers and sectoral ministries.