Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Ukraine


Identifying the pathways to economic, civic and social equality using data from the SCORE Ukraine 2021.

Executive Summary

Updates Following Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 Over 6.8M refugees fleeing Ukraine as of 29 May 2022, over 90% of which are women and children Over 7M internally displaced, where over two thirds of the existing IDP population were women and children Increased vulnerability to the humanitarian crisis, as 72% of social assistant recipients in 2019 were women, the gender pay gap stood at 22% and the pension gap at 32% Increased burden of unpaid care work due to the interruption of essential services given that 95% of single parents are women, and women share the largest burden of unpaid domestic and care work Heightened risks of exploitation and gender based violence which are exacerbated during conflict, forced displacement, temporary or shelter accommodation, and increased military presence No access to critical maternal healthcare for the 80,000 women that UNFPA estimates will give birth over the next three months in Ukraine

Despite progress on gender equality, the ratification of most pertinent global conventions, and the adoption of relevant legislation, Ukrainian women continue to face barriers to their meaningful economic, civic and political participation, hindered further by risks of economic fragility, poor health outcomes and exposure to violence for some of the most vulnerable groups. Traditional values and patriarchal views that condone discrimination and violence against women and girls remain widespread, while existing gender inequalities are continuously compounded by the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The present study is based on perception data from January to May 2021 and seeks to map the realities and needs of women in Ukraine, the obstacles they faced and their ability to overcome these. The study focusses on key dimensions of the Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index indicators that align with global gender equality indices and metrics, including economic, civic and political participation, as well as health, wellbeing, and exposure to adversity. The study subsequently aims to provide quantitative evidence from which actionable recommendations can be derived for achieving progress in gender equality and women’s empowerment in Ukraine, a prerequisite for both the success of any democratisation and development agenda, and for Ukraine’s post-war recovery.

SCORE results show that women report higher levels of subjective poverty and economic insecurity, experiencing lower employment rates despite having equal educational attainment compared to men. The women most vulnerable to economic fragility tend to be older and more rural, suffering from poorer health outcomes and facing barriers in their access to services, as well as feeling disenfranchised from the state and their personal role in civic life. Women overall are less likely to be active citizens, and their civic empowerment was found to depend on their sense of agency and civic responsibility, trust in civil society and political security, as well as intergroup contact, leadership and entrepreneurial skills. When age-related effects are accounted for, women continue to experience lower physical health status and mental wellbeing, both of which are exacerbated by economic fragility and by insufficient access to medical services. Harmful gender norms continue to be pervasive, particularly in men, and while exposure to physical and psychological domestic abuse is similar for both women and men in the sample, women have lower personal security.

Actors seeking to alleviate the challenges faced by the most vulnerable segments of the population should focus on targeting economic and employability recovery, and directing financial assistance to the most vulnerable, isolated and hard-to-reach citizens, namely, older and more rural women. There is a need to expand the provision of psychosocial support, eliminating the stigma surrounding this, and scaling up protection mechanisms for women survivors of domestic violence. Finally, education on the equal rights of women and men, and the importance of women’s equal contribution to social and civic life should be mainstreamed and popularized, with targeted emphasis on men of all ages and rural citizens.