Rights of females in Ukraine

Alla Kostovetska, KNEU


Women’s rights in Ukrainian society are equal to men’s constitutional rights in the economic, political, cultural and social spheres, as well as in the family. However, Ukrainian women suffer from gender inequality: for example, they receive lower wages than men and have limited opportunities for promotion; more than 45% of the population of Ukraine suffer from violence – physical, sexual or psychological and most of them are women.

Movement for rights

One of the largest feminist organizations in Europe was founded in the 1920s in modern western Ukraine, Galicina. The organization was called the Union of Ukrainian Women, headed by Milena Rudnitskaya. In the Soviet era, feminism was classified as a bourgeois ideology, and therefore also an anti-Soviet counter-revolutionary. Civil society and feminism practically did not exist in Soviet times. After Ukraine gained independence in 1991, the feminist movement began.

Women’s in Politics

As for 2017-2018, there were 52 women in the Ukrainian Parliamen, which is only 12% of the total number of deputies. On average, 22% of the world’s parliaments are women, while in the European Union this figure is 25%. According to a study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (published om November 1st, 2014), Ukraine ranks 112th among 189 countries in terms of women’s political representation in parliament . Mykola Azarov, Viktor Yanukovych and Volodymyr Lytvyn questioned the possibility of women to participate in the political life of the country.

The most famous women politicians are: Yulia Tymoshenko, Nadiya Savchenko, Natalia Korolevskaya, Olga Bogomolets, Inna Theological.

The government of Vladimir Groysman included Klimpush-Tsintsadze Ivanna Orestovna, Liliya M. Grinevich, Alexandra Pavlenko (acting), Suprun Ulyana Nadiya (acting), and Oksana Markarova (political), this is a political entity. Yatsenyuk government (appointed December 2nd, 2014) had two female ministers. The predecessor, the first Yatsenyuk government (appointed February 27th, 2014) had only one.

The only female Prime Minister of Ukraine was Yulia Tymoshenko. Raisa Bogatyryova served as Minister of Health and Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Violence against women

A lot of Ukrainian women suffer from violence – physical, sexual or psychological. In 2001, the Domestic Violence Act 2001 was passed in Ukraine. Article 173-2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of Ukraine also refers to “violence against the family”]. In February 2013, Representative of the United Nations Population Fund Nuzhat Ehsan stated that “Ukraine does have an unacceptable level of violence, mainly male, and mainly because of high levels of alcohol consumption.” He also accused in legislation promoting domestic violence: “You can violate women’s rights, and if you are a high-level official or an official’s family, you can avoid it”.

Annually, a lot of Ukrainians have physical and sexual aggression in the family, and the death rate of women from domestic violence in Ukraine reaches 600 women a year (three times more than killed in the area of ​​anti-terrorist operation in the East during the same period). In total, over one million women have been affected by domestic violence in 2017. At the same time, only 110 thousand of them have filed statements with the police, and only 4.4 thousand have gone to court.

This is also due to the victim’s systematic prosecution of Ukrainian justice: according to DCAF(Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance) analyze, that nearly 40% of criminal justice officials – police, prosecutors, judges – consider domestic violence as a private affair. And 60% believe that the victims themselves are to blame for what happened to them. In addition, according to DCAF and La Strada-Ukraine, more than four-fifths of police and judges in Ukraine view domestic violence cases as a “domestic dispute”, expecting the victims to forgive the perpetrators for preserving. Such cases are often heard without the presence of the victim, and the average duration of each court hearing is only 7 minutes.

Ukraine has signed the Istanbul Convention, in a version that excludes the possibility of its ratification and, consequently, the implementation of programs to counter domestic violence.

Labor market

Women make up 54% of Ukraine’s population and 47.4% of its workforce. More than 60% of Ukrainian women have higher education (universities and higher). Women’s unemployment rates are very high compared to men with the same education: 80% of all unemployed in Ukraine are women, not to mention widespread hidden unemployment among women.

The legislation of Ukraine declares the legal equality of men and women, including equal pay for equal work. Moreover, sectors of the industry dominated by female workers (such as teaching, education, food service) have the lowest wages and the highest wage arrears compared to the rest of the sectors.

In Ukraine, women earn on average 30% less than men in similar positions.

Women tend to run small businesses in retail, wholesale, and catering.

Discrimination against women in the Ukrainian labor market is manifested in hiring. Selection by gender is forbidden by current law, but in practice, most job postings contain desirable gender, appearance and age requirements. There is evidence that employers are refusing to hire younger women because they expect to become pregnant for women with children and women after 35 years.

Ukraine is also characterized by vertical discrimination against women in the labor market, ie the glass ceiling. For example, women are headed by only 2% of large Ukrainian companies, 27% of enterprises with 1-5 employees or employees, 30% of enterprises with less than 50 employees and about 50% of all enterprises without hired labor. High ranking positions in government, public or private regions of Ukraine are held by women.

Women’s in sports


Women’s in Show business

From speaking constantly to different Ukrainian artists, musicians, and political figures, it seems impossible to overstate the profound significance of the 2013 Maidan protests and its impact on Ukrainian culture. Unlike other revolutions, the Maidan protests did not shift the top of the state but entirely changed the DNA of Ukrainian culture. This has led to a resurgent sense of purpose and national identity among almost every sector of Ukrainian society. On one hand, it has led to nationalist groups that rock Cossack haircuts on Khreshchatyk, but on the other, it has led to what is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most dynamic and exciting cultural scenes.

Much attention has been paid to Ukrainian fashion and arts scene, with the likes of Yulia Yefimtchuk and Sasha Kurmaz drawing significant international attention. What has been critically ignored however – until now, at least – has been the amazing rise of Ukrainian pop music. With artists like Onuka foregrounding an aesthetic. Ukraine has started to produce a long stream of musical artists that are renegotiating what pop music is.

In both Kyiv and other Ukrainian urban centres a diverse of young musicians have emerged that escape any easy categorization other than their refusal to be defined as either ‘mainstream’ or ‘underground’. They are not artists that one has to be plugged into the fashionable conversation to know about. You can hear them in cafes, and even sometimes in advertisements. However, they are asking far more questions than what we traditionally associate with mainstream music in the 21st century.

More importantly, in contrast to a typically male-driven musical business, the artists meriting the most to female solo artists or female-led groups. With the dominant narrative surrounding Ukrainian women being highly sexist and colonial, it is important to showcase the resistance to that and artistic creativity emerging by Ukrainian women. As such, we want to look at some of the artists really exciting us and showing that the future is female in Ukrainian music.

Well know celebrities nowadays: Lesia Neketyuk(TV presenter), MARUV(Ukrainian Singer), Alla Kostromichova(Model).

Women’s in Sport

There are a lot of Ukrainian women’s performing in different sports competitions, here are some of them:

  1. Elina Svitolina

The #5 tennis player in the world according to The Women’s Tennis Association. She is a 23-year old player from Odessa. She began her professional career in 2010 and so far got her best result in 2017 – reaching WTA ranking #3. Her list of victories includes top tennis players of the last decade: she beat Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Petra Kvitová, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Angelique Kerber and just recently – Simona Halep, the current #1 player in the world. This Ukrainian sportswoman is also the youngest in the top 10 rankings, and the first Ukrainian tennis player to enter the golden list. Svitolina is said to have had proposals to change citizenship in return for financial support but has never accepted such a proposal. At the end of July 2018, Svitolina declined the chance to play at the Moscow River Cup invitation for political reasons.

  1. Olha Kharlan

A three-time world champion in saber fencing. Miss Kharlan has two gold Olympic Games medals and currently leads the International Fencing Federation rating, despite losing her #1 place to a Chinese fencer in the World Cup in 2018. Still, the 27-year-old Ukrainian fencer remains the most decorated sportswoman after two American fencers – they have won four World Cups each.

  1. Olena Pidhrushna

This Ukrainian biathlete is known for winning Olympic gold at the winter games in Sochi in 2014. This brought Pidhrushna, as well as all of the biathlete female team, national recognition and love. Pidhrushna is also a World champion and five-time European champion. In 2014-2015 she was a Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport of Ukraine. In that same period, she left the sport for almost two years to raise a family and have a child, but her personal life broke and biathlete returned to her first nature – sport. At the 2017–18 Biathlon World Cup she won silver. Pidhrushna carried the Ukrainian flag during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Olympics in Pyongyang. Unfortunately, the Olympics were unlucky for Ukraine for this year, and brought only one medal – gold for freestyle acrobatics.

  1. Marta Kostyuk

The youngest tennis player to participate in a major international contest since 1995. 16-year-old Kostyuk is now ranked 129 by the WTA, but her career is moving quickly: she won the 2016 “Petits As” and 2017 “Australian Open girls’’, and in the same year – the ITF tournament and eventually became the youngest Ukrainian to win a professional title in a single-player category. She comes from a sporting family, and her first and main trainer remains her mother. This year during the Australian Open, she made her debut at the open, became the youngest player to win a main draw match since the legendary Martina Hingis did that in 1996. She won again in the second round and became the youngest player to reach the third round since Mirjana Lučić-Baroni at the 1997 US Open. However, Elina Svitolina beat her in the third round.

  1. Inessa Kravets, athlete. The most prominent woman in triple jumping. She set a world record in 1995 which has still not been beaten. Inessa is an Olympic and World champion with numerous awards and records of her time.
  2. Larisa Latynina, artistic gymnast. 9 individual Olympic gold medals for gymnastics, an absolute World record both for male and female gymnasts.

7. Zinaida Turchyna, handball player. She won three Olympic and five world championship medals. In 2000 the International Handball Federation named her the greatest handball player of the 20th century.


Protection of women’s rights is one of the most pressing and urgent universal issues of the modern world. Though Ukraine was among the first nations to ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the current law, while not containing discriminatory provisions against women, in many cases is not sufficiently effective.

Права молодих жінок в Україні


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