Women in Ukraine
Ukrainian[citation needed] peasant women in Chaszczowanie (ukr. Хащованя), Poland, c. late 1930s.
General Statistics
Maternal mortality (per 100,000)32 (2010)
Women in parliament20.8% (2019)[1]
Women over 25 with secondary education91.5% (2012)
Women in labour force62% [M:74%] (2016)
Gender Inequality Index[2]
Value0.200 (2021)
Rank49th out of 191
Global Gender Gap Index[3]
Value0.707 (2022)
Rank81st out of 146

Women in Ukraine have equal constitutional rights as men in the economic, political, cultural, and social fields, as well as in the family.

Most of the around 45 percent of Ukraine's population (45 million[4]) who suffer violence – physical, sexual, or mental – are women.[5]

History of feminism in Ukraine

The history of Ukraine during the past two centuries is closely connected to that of the Russian Empire and later on the Soviet Union. Ukraine became independence in 1991 and is now a state with more than 40 million inhabitants, most of whom are Christian Orthodox, and 70% of the population is urban.[6]

One of the biggest feminist organization in Europe was founded during the 1920s in modern western Ukraine or Galicia.[7] The organization was called the Ukrainian Women's Union and was led by Milena Rudnytska.[8] During the Soviet-era, feminism was classified as a bourgeois ideology, hence counterrevolutionary and anti-Soviet.[9] Civil society and feminism were virtually nonexistent in the Soviet times.[10] After Ukraine gained independence in 1991, a feminist movement began taking root.[9]

As of 2010, there are several women's rights groups active in Ukraine,[11][12][13] including Feminist Ofenzyva[14] and Ukrainian Woman's Union.[15] FEMEN, the most active women's rights group in Kyiv, was officially closed in 2013. The organization left Ukraine because the leadership feared "for their lives and freedom".[16][17][18]

During the war in Donbas that started in 2014, a "huge volunteer movement of women organizing humanitarian action and community dialogue" developed, according to Oksana Potapova, a feminist and peacebuilding researcher and activist who created Theatre for Dialogue, a non-governmental organization in support of the women's volunteer movement.[19]

Violence against women

Main article: Violence against women in Ukraine

Around 45 percent of Ukraine's population (45 million) suffer violence – physical, sexual, or mental – and most of them are women.[5] Street women are the most vulnerable category; around 40 percent of them suffer from sexual violence, with 25 percent being under 18.[5] In 2001, Ukraine enacted the Domestic Violence (Prevention) Act 2001.[20] Article 173-2 of the Code of Administrative Offences of Ukraine also deals with "violence over family".[21] Nuzhat Ehsan, the 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 for contributing 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”.[5]

Women in the labor force

Main article: Gender inequality in Ukraine

Women make up 54% of the population of Ukraine and 47.4% of its labor force.[22] 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.[23]

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 retirement age is in the process of being gradually increased, to 60 years for women and 62 years for men-civil servants by 2021 (the original age was 55 for women and 60 for men).[24] 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.[25][26][27][28]

Women in Ukrainian business

On average women earn 30% less than men occupying similar posts.[10][29]

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.[30] 2% of large companies are headed by women.[10]

In 2008, the women's labour participation rate (LPR) was approximately 62%.[31]

Women in Ukrainian politics

In the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election 87 women were elected to parliament, a record for Ukraine, 20.52% of the total number of deputies.[32] In the election about 50% of elected Voice deputies were women, 37% of the elected European Solidarity MP's were women; the least places for women was in Opposition Platform – For Life with 11.4%.[32] In 2014, about 12.1% the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) were women.[1] From the 2014 parliamentary election to the 2019 election this number increased to 53, that is, 12.6%.[32] The percentage of female lawmakers fluctuates per election.[29][33][34] Of the 47 women elected in 2014 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[35]). In 2019 26 women won a constituency seat.[32] In the parliament elected in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election women made up 9.9% of the parliament.[33][36] In the first parliamentary election held after 1991's Ukrainian independence held in 1994 only 11 women (2.3% of the parliament) were elected.[33][37] An Ukrayinska Pravda research published on 12 November 2014 revealed that globally on average 22% of parliament consists of women, while in European Union countries this figure is 25%.[38] 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.[37] Laws to re-implement Soviet-era quota for women in parliament (30% or 35%[34]) have been debated in parliament but not approved.[33]

Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko and President of Poland Lech Kaczyński (July 2008)

Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and its successor Batkivshchyna[39] have been the only woman-led party to make it into parliament.[33][34] Hanna Hopko was first on the party list of Self Reliance, which finished third in the October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election.[40][41] In the same election Nadiya Savchenko was placed first on the party list of Batkivshchyna (the party finished sixth in the election).[41][42] 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").[33][34][43]

The second Yatsenyuk Government (appointed 2 December 2014) had two female ministers.[44] Its predecessor first Yatsenyuk Government (appointed 27 February 2014) had one female minister.[45] The 2016–2019 Groysman government ended his tenure with five female members.[46]

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[47]) was the 11 March 2010 appointed[48] first Azarov Government until Raisa Bohatyryova was appointed Minister of Healthcare and Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine on 14 February 2012.[47][34] 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.[49][50] 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[50] and did file different Court cases against him.[11] Azorov's consecutive second Azarov Government (that lasted from 24 December 2012[51] until 27 February 2014[52]) had three female ministers.[53][54]

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".[55][56] (Former) Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn have also made comments that could be seen as insolent towards woman.[57]

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.[58]

Women in the Ukrainian military

Main article: Women in the Ukrainian military

Women in Ukraine are allowed to join the military,[59] but historically this has been limited to non-combatant roles: medic, cook, accountant, etc.[60] As of July 2016, Ukrainian military forces began allowing women to participate in combatant roles including, but not limited to, machine gunner, military scout, and sniper.[61]

Women during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

See also: Women in the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukrainian women who are pregnant and postpartum face unique challenges, like giving birth in shelters.[62] U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights verified 75 attacks on medical centers.[63] A pregnant woman was photographed being carried out on a stretcher from a children's hospital in Mariupol, after a targeted attack.[64] Mothers who have three or more children are able to leave the country with their husband for safety; men with 1 or 2 children are not allowed to leave the county.[65]

UN Human Women reports higher rates of trafficking and gender-based violence.[66]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Women in Parliaments: World Classification". ipu.org. 25 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Human Development Report 2021/2022" (PDF). HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORTS. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
  3. ^ "Global Gender Gap Report 2022" (PDF). World Economic Forum. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  4. ^ "Ukraine country profile - Overview". BBC News. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d "Kyivans join global rally to end violence against women". Kyiv Post. 14 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Europe :: Ukraine — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". CIA. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  7. ^ "Halytsʹki feministky 1930-kh: natsyst·skoe "Kukhnya-Tserkva-Dity" ne dlya nas" Галицькі феміністки 1930-х: нацистське "Кухня-Церква-Діти" не для нас [Galician feminists of the 1930s: the Nazi "Kitchen-Church-Children" is not for us]. Історична правда (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Lʹvivsʹki feministky. Milena Rudnytsʹka" Львівські феміністки. Мілена Рудницька [Lviv feminists. Milena Rudnytska] (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 2007-12-09.
  9. ^ a b De Haan, Francisca; Daskalova, Krasimira; Loutfi, Anna (2006). A Biographical Dictionary of Women's Movements and Feminisms: Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, 19th and 20th Centuries. Central European University Press. p. 411. ISBN 978-963-7326-39-4 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ a b c Topless protesters gain fame in Ukraine[dead link], The Washington Post (November 19, 2010)
  11. ^ a b "Women accuse Ukraine's Azarov of discrimination". Kyiv Post. 1 April 2010.
  12. ^ "New Feminist Offensive aims to lift women". Kyiv Post. 22 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Feminine Femen targets 'sexpats'". Kyiv Post. 22 May 2009.
  14. ^ (in Ukrainian) Аборти в Україні: право на вибір чи право на життя? Abortions in Ukraine: the right to choose or the right to life?, BBC Ukrainian (25 May 2012)
  15. ^ 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)
  16. ^ (in Ukrainian) У колишньому офісі Femen відкрили книжкову крамницю In the former office Femen opened a bookstore, Ukrayinska Pravda (23 October 2013)
  17. ^ "Aktyvistky Femen vtekly z Ukrayiny" Активістки Femen втекли з України [Femen activists fled from Ukraine]. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 31 August 2013.
  18. ^ "Femen zakryye ofis v Ukrayini, ale diyalʹnistʹ ne prypynytʹ" Femen закриє офіс в Україні, але діяльність не припинить [Femen closes office in Ukraine, however, the activities do not stop]. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 27 August 2013.
  19. ^ "OSCE Networking Platform for Women Leaders including Peacebuilders and Mediators". Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. 2021-12-06. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  20. ^ "Law of Ukraine: On Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence".
  21. ^ "Download, to load, read through the Code of Ukraine about administrative violations. Item of item 1-212". yurist-online.com.
  22. ^ "Labor force, female (% of total labor force) | Data". data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  23. ^ "Human Trafficking in Ukraine and Perspective of It's [sic] Prevention" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-24.
  24. ^ "Rada prinyala pensionnuyu reformu, povyshayushchuyu pensionnyy vozrast" Рада приняла пенсионную реформу, повышающую пенсионный возраст [The Rada adopted a pension reform that raises the retirement age]. РИА Новости (in Russian). 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  25. ^ "Internet". Interpol. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  26. ^ "Choose language - Drupal". Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  27. ^ "Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Ukraine". U.S. Department of State. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  28. ^ "Europe - A modern slave's brutal odyssey". 3 November 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  29. ^ a b On Women's Day, struggle for equality remains, Kyiv Post (8 March 2012)
  30. ^ New Perspectives on Women Entrepreneurs by John Butler, Information Age Publishing, 2000, ISBN 978-1-931576-78-9 (page 251)
  31. ^ "Ukraine - An Overview of Women's Work, Minimum Wages and Employment". wageindicator.org.
  32. ^ a b c d (in Ukrainian) The new Council has increased the number of women deputies, Ukrayinska Pravda (23 July 2019)
  33. ^ a b c d e f 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)
  34. ^ 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
  35. ^ Parliamentary elections not to be held at nine constituencies in Donetsk region and six constituencies in Luhansk region – CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (25 October 2014)
  36. ^ Too few women in the Ukrainian parliament, Kyiv Post (14 December 2012)
  37. ^ a b Parliament has record number of women, Kyiv Post (11 December 2014)
  38. ^ (in Ukrainian) The new parliament greatest women in history, Ukrayinska Pravda (12 November 2014)
  39. ^ After the parliamentary elections in Ukraine: a tough victory for the Party of Regions, Centre for Eastern Studies (7 November 2012)
  40. ^ Goncharova, Olena (23 October 2014). "New faces in parliament possible with Samopomich Party". Kyiv Post.
  41. ^ 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)
  42. ^ Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna: Two women at top will propel party into parliament, Kyiv Post (Oct. 13, 2014)
  43. ^ Virtual Politics - Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World, Andrew Wilson, Yale University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-300-09545-7
  44. ^ Rada supports coalition-proposed government lineup, Interfax-Ukraine (2 December 2014)
    Rada approves new Cabinet with three foreigners, Kyiv Post (2 December 2014)
    (in Ukrainian) Rada voted the new Cabinet, Ukrayinska Pravda (2 December 2014)
  45. ^ Maidan nominates Yatseniuk for prime minister, Interfax-Ukraine (26 February 2014)
    Ukrainian parliament endorses new cabinet, Interfax-Ukraine (27 February 2014)
  46. ^ New Cabinet formed in Ukraine, UNIAN (14 April 2016)
    Week's balance: PM Groysman, Rada's sabotage, and disappointing IMF forecast, UNIAN (18 April 2016)
    (in Ukrainian) Spring transplantation: Prime Groisman and without a coalition Cabinet, Ukrayinska Pravda (14 April 2016)
    Ukraine parliament appoints Markarova, Friz ministers, UNIAN (22 November 2018)
    (in Ukrainian) The government appointed Acting Minister of Health, Ukrayinska Pravda (27 July 2016)
  47. ^ a b Bohatyriova appointed vice premier and health minister, Kyiv Post (14 February 2012)
    Azarov's cabinet has highest number of ministers in Europe, Kyiv Post (March 16, 2010)
  48. ^ VR approved structure of Cabinet of Ministers (update), Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (March 11, 2010)
  49. ^ Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov had his office blessed, Interfax-Ukraine (March 19, 2010)
  50. ^ a b Ukrainian women berate 'Neanderthal' PM for sexist remarks, The Guardian (March 24, 2010)
  51. ^ President of Ukraine has appointed new staff of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Archived 2013-12-11 at the Wayback Machine, Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (24 December 2012)
  52. ^ Rada dismisses previous government, to form new one, Interfax-Ukraine (27 February 2014)
  53. ^ Yanukovych appoints new Cabinet of Ministers, Kyiv Post (24 December 2012)
  54. ^ Ukrainian President Appoints New Justice Minister , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (4 July 2013)
  55. ^ "Yanukovych: The Place of women – in the kitchen". Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  56. ^ Newseditor. "Barclays announces further Non Core disposal".
  57. ^ Honoring Women, Ukrainian Government-Style , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (8 March 2012)
  58. ^ Ukrainian clergy condemn FEMEN protest on Sophia Cathedral bell tower, Kyiv Post (11 April 2012)
  59. ^ Women in the military by country#Ukraine
  60. ^ "Country Policy and Information Note, Ukraine: Military service" (PDF). 3.0. November 2016: 9. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  61. ^ "Country Policy and Information Note, Ukraine: Military service" (PDF). 3.0. November 2016: 15. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)Ministry of Defence of Ukraine (2017). "White Book 2016: The Armed Forces of Ukraine" (PDF): 57. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  62. ^ "As pregnant flee Ukraine, war imposes long-term health effects: Experts". ABC News. Retrieved 2023-04-12.
  63. ^ "Update to the Human Rights Council on Ukraine". OHCHR. Retrieved 2023-04-12.
  64. ^ "Mariupol children's hospital destroyed in targeted attack, Ukrainian officials say". ABC News. Retrieved 2023-04-12.
  65. ^ Mother Ukraine | Pregnant in Wartime | 52 Documentary, retrieved 2023-04-12
  66. ^ "In Focus: War in Ukraine is a crisis for women and girls". UN Women – Headquarters. Retrieved 2023-04-12.

Further reading