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Women's rights in Ukraine

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Title: Women's rights in Ukraine  
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Women's rights in Ukraine

Women's rights in Ukraine
The feminist protest group FEMEN was founded in Ukraine in 2008.
Gender Inequality Index[1]
Value 0.326 (2013)
Rank 61st out of 152
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 32 (2010)
Women in parliament 9.4% (2013)
Females over 25 with secondary education 91.5% (2012)
Women in labour force 53.0% (2012)
Global Gender Gap Index[2]
Value 0.6935 (2013)
Rank 64th out of 136

Women in Ukraine have equal constitutional rights as men in the economic, political, cultural and social fields, as well as in the family. Women receive lower salaries and have limited opportunity for career advancement.

Most of the around 45 percent of Ukraine’s population (45 million[3]) who suffer violence – physical, sexual or mental – are women.[4]


  • History of feminism in Ukraine 1
  • Violence against women 2
  • Women in the labor force 3
  • Women in Ukrainian business 4
  • Women in Ukrainian politics 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

History of feminism in Ukraine

One of the biggest feminist organization in Ukrainian Woman's Union, and was led by Milena Rudnycka.[6] During the Soviet-era feminism was classified as a bourgeois ideology, hence counterrevolutionary and anti-Soviet.[7] Civil society and feminism were virtually nonexistent in the Soviet times.[8] After independence of Ukraine in 1991, a feminist movement began taking root.[7]

Currently there are several women's rights groups active in Ukraine,[9][10][11] including [14][15][16]

Violence against women

Around 45 percent of Ukraine’s population (45 million) suffer violence – physical, sexual or mental – and most of them are women.[4] Street women are the most vulnerable category; around 40 percent of them suffer from sexual violence, with 25 percent being under 18.[4] In 2001, Ukraine enacted the Domestic Violence (Prevention) Act 2001.[17] Nuzhat Ehsan, UN Population Fund representative in Ukraine, stated in February 2013 “Ukraine really has an unacceptable level of violence, mainly by men and mainly due to high level of alcohol consumption”. He also blamed loopholes in the legislation contribute to the problem of domestic violence, “You can violate women and still if you are a high-level official or from a high-level official family, you can get away with it”.[4]

Women in the labor force

Women make up 54% of the population of Ukraine and 45% of its labor force. Over 60% of all Ukrainian women have higher education (college level and above). However, the unemployment rate of women is very high compared to men with the same educational background (80% of all unemployed in Ukraine are women), not to mention the extensive hidden unemployment among women.[18]

Labor laws establish the legal equality of men and women, including equal pay for equal work, a principle that generally was observed. However, industries dominated by female workers had the lowest relative wages and were the ones most likely to be affected by wage arrears. The Labor Code sets the retirement age for women at 55 and for men at 60. There were reports of some employers refusing to hire younger women likely to become pregnant or women over 35. Women also received lower salaries and had limited opportunity for career advancement. Few women held top managerial positions in the government or in state- owned or private industry.[19][20][21][22]

Women in Ukrainian business

On average women earn 30% less than men occupying similar posts.[8][23]

About 50 of all enterprises without employees are woman owned. Enterprises with 1 to 5 employees are 27% woman owned. Enterprises with less than 50 employees are 30% woman owned. These numbers are similar to those in other Western economies. Women tend to lead small business in retail, wholesale trade and catering.[24] 2% of large companies are headed by women.[8]

In 2005 56.4% of all Ukrainian woman were full-time housewives.[25]

Women in Ukrainian politics

Since Ukrainian independence about 7% of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) are women, the percentage of female lawmakers fluctuates per election.[23][26][27] In the parliament elected in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election women made up 9.9% of the parliament.[28][26] In the parliament elected in the last elections of 26 October 2014 this number grew to 11.1%; setting a record for Ukraine.[29] Of the 47 women elected to parliament only 2 achieved this by winning a constituency (the election used a mixed electoral system with 53.2% MP's elected under party lists and 46.8% in 198 constituencies[30]). Globally on average 22% of parliament consists of women, while in European Union countries this figure is 25%.[29] Laws to re-implement Soviet-era quota for women in parliament (30% or 35%[27]) have been debated in parliament but not approved.[26]

Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and its successor Batkivshchyna[31] have been the only woman-led party to make it into parliament.[26][27] Hanna Hopko was first on the party list of Self Reliance, which finished third in the October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election.[32][33] In the same election Nadiya Savchenko was placed first on the party list of Batkivshchyna (the party finished sixth in the election).[34][33] There have been more woman-led parties in Ukraine and even a few "woman issue" parties (analyst's have described these as "virtual parties designed to steal votes from opposition parties").[26][27][35]

During the presidential election of 2010, then candidate Viktor Yanukovych refused to debate his female opponent prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and justified it by saying that "a woman's place is in the kitchen".[36][37] Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated in March 2010 there were no female ministers (for the first time in Ukraine[27]) in the Azarov Government (Europe's only government that had no female members in its composition till Raisa Bohatyryova was appointed Minister of Healthcare and Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine on 14 February 2012[38][39]) because "Reforms do not fall into women's competence", while adding that he greatly respects women.[40][41] Women's groups in Ukraine reported Azarov to the country's ombudsman following this remarks. They accuse him of gender discrimination and holding neanderthal views[41] and did file different Court cases against him.[9] (Former) Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn have also made comments that could be seen as insolent towards woman.[42]

A bill banning abortion (written by Andriy Shkil) was registered in the Verkhovna Rada at the request of the clergy of the Greek Catholic Church and the Vatican on 12 March 2012.[43]


  1. ^ "Table 4: Gender Inequality Index". United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013". World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  3. ^ Ukraine profile, BBC News
  4. ^ a b c d Kyivans join global rally to end violence against women, Kyiv Post (14 February 2013)
  5. ^ Галицькі феміністки 1930-х: нацистське "Кухня-Церква-Діти" не для нас
  6. ^ Львівські феміністки. Мілена Рудницька
  7. ^ a b A Biographical Dictionary of Women's Movements and Feminisms: Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, 19th and 20th Centuries by Francisca De Haan, Krasimira Daskalova and Anna Loutfi, Central European University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-963-7326-39-4 (page 411 etc.)
  8. ^ a b c Topless protesters gain fame in Ukraine, The Washington Post (November 19, 2010)
  9. ^ a b Women accuse Ukraine's Azarov of discrimination, Kyiv Post (April 1, 2010)
  10. ^ New Feminist Offensive aims to lift women, Kyiv Post (22 March 2012)
  11. ^ Feminine Femen targets 'sexpats', Kyiv Post (May 22, 2009)
  12. ^ (Ukrainian) Abortions in Ukraine: the right to choose or the right to life?Аборти в Україні: право на вибір чи право на життя? , BBC Ukrainian (25 May 2012)
  13. ^ Historical Dictionary of Feminism (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies and Movements) by Janet K. Boles, The Scarecrow Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8108-4946-4 (page 324)
  14. ^ (Ukrainian) In the former office Femen opened a bookstoreУ колишньому офісі Femen відкрили книжкову крамницю , Ukrayinska Pravda (23 October 2013)
  15. ^ (Ukrainian) Femen activists fled from UkraineАктивістки Femen втекли з України , Ukrayinska Pravda (31 August 2013)
  16. ^ (Ukrainian) Femen closes office in Ukraine, however, the activities do not stopFemen закриє офіс в Україні, але діяльність не припинить , Ukrayinska Pravda (27 August 2013)
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b On Women’s Day, struggle for equality remains, Kyiv Post (8 March 2012)
  24. ^ New Perspectives on Women Entrepreneurs by John Butler, Information Age Publishing, 2000, ISBN 97819315767 (page 251)
  25. ^ Feminists Contest Politics and Philosophy (Philosophy and Politics), Peter Lang, 2005, ISBN 978-90-5201-252-0 (page 202)
  26. ^ a b c d e Women's Social Activism in the New Ukraine by Sarah D. Phillips, Indiana University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-253-21992-3 (page 57/58)
  27. ^ a b c d e Central and East European Politics: From Communism to Democracy Second Edition, edited by Sharon Wolchik and Jane Curry, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011, ISBN 0-7425-6734-6
  28. ^ Too few women in the Ukrainian parliament, Kyiv Post (14 December 2012)
  29. ^ a b (Ukrainian) The new parliament greatest women in history, Ukrayinska Pravda (12 November 2014)
  30. ^ Parliamentary elections not to be held at nine constituencies in Donetsk region and six constituencies in Luhansk region - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (25 October 2014)
  31. ^ After the parliamentary elections in Ukraine: a tough victory for the Party of Regions, Centre for Eastern Studies (7 November 2012)
  32. ^ Goncharova, Olena (23 October 2014). "New faces in parliament possible with Samopomich Party".  
  33. ^ a b Poroshenko Bloc to have greatest number of seats in parliament, Ukrinform (8 November 2014)
    People's Front 0.33% ahead of Poroshenko Bloc with all ballots counted in Ukraine elections - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
    Poroshenko Bloc to get 132 seats in parliament - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
  34. ^ Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna: Two women at top will propel party into parliament, Kyiv Post (Oct. 13, 2014)
  35. ^ Virtual Politics - Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World, Andrew Wilson, Yale University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-300-09545-7
  36. ^ Yanukovych: The Place of women - in the kitchen
  37. ^ Financial: Yanukovych Unwilling To Debate Tymoshenko At Runoff Election, 20/01/2010
  38. ^ Bohatyriova appointed vice premier and health minister, Kyiv Post (14 February 2012)
  39. ^ Azarov's cabinet has highest number of ministers in Europe, Kyiv Post (March 16, 2010)
  40. ^ Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov had his office blessed, Interfax-Ukraine (March 19, 2010)
  41. ^ a b Ukrainian women berate 'Neanderthal' PM for sexist remarks, The Guardian (March 24, 2010)
  42. ^ Honoring Women, Ukrainian Government-Style , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (8 March 2012)
  43. ^ Ukrainian clergy condemn FEMEN protest on Sophia Cathedral bell tower, Kyiv Post (11 April 2012)

External links

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