Women's rights in Ukraine
The feminist protest group FEMEN was founded in Ukraine in 2008.
|Gender Inequality Index|
|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|
|Rank||64th out of 136|
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|Women in society|
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.
History of feminism in Ukraine
One of the biggest feminist organization in Europe was founded during the 1920s in modern western Ukraine or Galicia. The organization was called the Ukrainian Woman's Union, and was led by Milena Rudnycka. During the Soviet-era feminism was classified as a bourgeois ideology, hence counterrevolutionary and anti-Soviet. Civil society and feminism were virtually nonexistent in the Soviet times. After independence of Ukraine in 1991, a feminist movement began taking root.
Currently there are several women's rights groups active in Ukraine, including Feminist Ofenzyva and Ukrainian Woman's Union. FEMEN, the most active women's rights group in Kiev was closed in 2013. The organization left Ukraine because the leadership feared "for their lives and freedom."
Violence against women
Around 45 percent of Ukraine’s population (45 million) suffer violence – physical, sexual or mental – and most of them are women. Street women are the most vulnerable category; around 40 percent of them suffer from sexual violence, with 25 percent being under 18. In 2001, Ukraine enacted the Domestic Violence (Prevention) Act 2001. 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”.
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.
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.
Women in Ukrainian business
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. 2% of large companies are headed by women.
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. In the current parliament elected in the last elections of 26 October 2014 woman make up 11.1% of the parliament; setting a record for Ukraine. 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). In the parliament elected in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election women made up 9.9% of the parliament. In the first parliamentary election held after 1991's Ukrainian independence held in 1994 only 11 women (2.3% of the parliament) were elected. Globally on average 22% of parliament consists of women, while in European Union countries this figure is 25%. According to a study (published on 1 November 2014) by Inter-Parliamentary Union Ukraine is ranked 112th among 189 countries in terms of political representation of women in parliament. Laws to re-implement Soviet-era quota for women in parliament (30% or 35%) have been debated in parliament but not approved.
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and its successor Batkivshchyna have been the only woman-led party to make it into parliament. Hanna Hopko was first on the party list of Self Reliance, which finished third in the October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election. In the same election Nadiya Savchenko was placed first on the party list of Batkivshchyna (the party finished sixth in the election). 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").
The current second Yatsenyuk Government (appointed 2 December 2014) has two female ministers. Its predecessor first Yatsenyuk Government (appointed 27 February 2014) had one female minister. So far the only government that had no female ministers (and was Europe's only government that had no female members in its composition at the time) was the 11 March 2010 appointed first Azarov Government till Raisa Bohatyryova was appointed Minister of Healthcare and Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine on 14 February 2012 Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated in March 2010 there were no female ministers in this government because "Reforms do not fall into women's competence", while adding that he greatly respects women. 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 and did file different Court cases against him. Azorov's consecutive second Azarov Government (that lasted from 24 December 2012 till 27 February 2014) had three female ministers.
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". (Former) Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn have also made comments that could be seen as insolent towards woman.
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