Equal, but not equal: time to put an end to gender inequality!

Equal, but not equal: time to put an end to gender inequality!

A society that is characterized by democratic values and strives for the supremacy of human rights should provide men and women with equal rights and equal opportunities to exercise them and participate in all spheres of life. That is, to ensure existence in society gender equality and prevent gender inequality. Their relationship forms itself gender gap.


How long do you think it will take the world to close the gender gap? 5, 10, 15 years? In fact, it is 131 years. This term is specified in the report Global Gender Gap Report 2023, which was presented by the World Economic Forum in 2023. For understanding - according to experts, even all the glaciers of the planet will completely disappear faster - in 100 years. Just imagine - the largest reservoir of fresh water will disappear faster than men and women achieve complete equality!

According to this report, research is conducted in 4 important areas of inequality: economic participation, educational attainment, political representation, and health. In 2023, Ukraine ranked 66th out of 146 countries (the higher the rank, the smaller the gender gap). This indicator is worse compared to 2020 – 59th place in the rating, but better than 2021 (74th place in the rating). The worst situation in Ukraine is with political representation (that is, the participation of women in decision-making), so bridging the gap in this area should be among the priorities of overcoming gender inequality.

It is worth noting that in Ukraine during the years of independence, a lot has been done to ensure gender equality and the protection of human rights in general - a number of normative and sub-legal normative and legal acts in this area have been adopted, human rights organizations are operating and human rights movements are being organized, state standards are changing and policies, state strategies are approved. Only during 1999-2005, 8 draft laws on gender equality were submitted, the Laws of Ukraine "On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities of Women and Men", "On Prevention and Counteraction of Discrimination in Ukraine" were adopted, amendments were made to the Family Code, the Code of Labor Laws of Ukraine, the Istanbul Convention was ratified in 2022 - and this is far from the entire list of our achievements.

However, there are still areas of society in which norms designed to ensure gender equality are only verbally declared or applied to men and women unevenly, and where this unfortunate gender gap still exists. What is the current situation in Ukraine and what should we do to end gender inequality? We will talk about this in more detail today.

Gender equality and pay

As of 2023, the gender pay gap in Ukraine is 18.6%. That is, statistically, men receive 18.6% higher wages than women, even if they have the same qualifications and the same working conditions. That is, for the same work, a man, for example, receives 100 hryvnias, and a woman 81 hryvnias 40 kopecks. If translated into years, this means that the woman is 6.5 years old works for free.

And this is despite the fact that the Law of Ukraine "On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities of Women and Men" stipulates that the employer is obliged to provide equal pay for women and men with the same qualifications and the same working conditions. And although this indicator is lower than the global one, it is, nevertheless, higher than in many EU countries.

"We hire only girls under the age of 25"

When looking at job vacancies, have you often seen in the job description requirements such as "we only hire girls under 25" or "if you are a man under 35, then this job is for you"? And the vacancy you are viewing, for example, "Cook" or "Courier", "Secretary" or "Salon Administrator". Previously, employers "would have been fine" for such demands. But thanks to the social movements for equal rights of men and women, which caused changes in the field of labor legislation and advertising, it is forbidden to offer work (employment) in announcements (advertisements) about vacancies (recruitment) only for women or only for men, with the exception of specific work that can be performed exclusively by persons of a certain gender. In case of violation of this requirement, the employer will bear responsibility according to the law.

Raising and caring for a child is only a woman's job?

Thanks to changes in the legislation, men and women have an equal right to take parental leave, that is, to "go on maternity leave". The legislation allows a person who has a child regardless of gender, use the right to parental leave; i.e parents can independently decide which of them will actually take care of the child. According to Art. 21 of the Law of Ukraine "On Leave" employees who have the right to social leave to take care of a child before the child reaches the age of three are paid state aid. Again, without gender requirement.

But in practice there is uneven application of these norms by employers, men are discriminated against about using your right to parental leave, because "what are you, grandma, to sit with the child?"

Women in "big politics"

As we have already noted, from the Global Gender Gap Report 2023 we can see that Ukraine has the worst situation with the participation of women in decision-making processes in the political sphere. As of February 1, 2024, 401 people's deputies of Ukraine work in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the ninth convocation, of which 316 are men and 85 are women.

The situation is similar in the government. The Cabinet consists of 21 ministers. Of them, 4 are women, ie less than 25%. At the same time, it is women who have an advantage among deputy prime ministers, there are 3 out of 5 of them.

For comparison: in the early 2000s, the Cabinet of Ministers was entirely male, like the first government of Viktor Yanukovych, which operated in 2002-2005. In the government formed after the Revolution, dignity was everything one woman - Lyudmila Denisova in the position of Minister of Labor and Social Policy.

The share of women among deputies of regional councils and local councils of cities of regional significance for 2022 was 29.8 %.

If we talk about the civil service, as of June 2023, the representation of women in category "A" positions was only 31%. At the beginning of 2020, this indicator was 29%. At the same time, the number of women in civil service positions of category "B" reaches 67%, in category "B" - 78%, so it is clear that there are many times fewer men in such civil service positions.

Therefore, even from the figures given above, it becomes clear that the proportional representation of men and women in decision-making processes is too striking and uneven. The reasons for this are definitely not a legislative deficiency, because the legislation regulates equal access of men and women to participation in political processes. Rather, they are hidden in the mentality and perception of men and women in positions of power, because it is believed that it is men who are "more suitable" to participate in the processes of making powerful decisions, because women are "too emotional and simply unable to participate in the management of the country."

Gunner, UAV operator and tanker

Legislation specifies that women have the same rights as men during military service. This includes equal access to positions and military ranks and equal responsibility. Equality of military service by women and men appeared thanks to updates of domestic legislation, their adaptation to international standards in the field of gender equality and NATO standards in particular.

In the context of Ukraine being in a state of full-scale war, it is difficult to underestimate the importance of women in the army - women get equal access to a military career, learn military, particularly combat, professions, and save the lives of each and every one. According to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, there is a steady trend towards increasing the number of female servicemen in the Armed Forces. Since 2014, the number of women in the army has increased by 2.5 times. So, in 2014, the total number of women was 49,926, of which 16,557 were military personnel. And as of March 1, 2023, the total number the number of women in the Armed Forces is 60,538, of which 42,898 are military personnel.

At the same time, if we talk about the realities, too often you can hear about cases of disrespect, discrimination and, worse, sexual violence against women in the army. Women are often unduly restricted in their access to military education, which may be necessary to acquire professional knowledge and skills that may nevertheless be critical to service. Due to the rigidness of the army and the dominance of mostly Soviet stereotypes in the minds of the military command and comrades in the service, real, and not the nominal equality of men and women - not an easy task.

So what should we do?

The information described above is not the only examples of achievements and achievements, but, at the same time, shortcomings in the field of ensuring gender equality, their list can be continued and continued. At the same time, there is still a long and difficult path of change ahead, because here and now we are going through another crisis related to the war. But at the same time, right now we are getting a new identity and the possibility of real change. Each of us has the power to change ourselves, our beliefs, to become the agent of change, thanks to which the situation will change for the better. When, if not now, will we build a democratic and equal society in which everyone has all the necessary rights and opportunities to realize themselves in all spheres of life, and for which we are fighting today?

What does it take to close this gender gap? Continue to improve domestic legislation, implement the measures provided for in particular by the National Strategy for Overcoming the Gender Pay Gap until 2030 and the Strategy for Implementing Gender Equality in Education until 2030, advocate for social and legislative changes, fight against stereotypes that are so strong rooted in our heads. After all, each, even a small step, can become a significant contribution to change, and the formation of the society for which we are fighting depends on each of us.