Gender Equality in Ukraine

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Flag of Ukraine
Population (in Mil.) 45.59
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 175.78
Sex Ratio (m/f) 0.85
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.151515152
Fertility Rate 1.28
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.61
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 79.5
Women in Parliament (in %) 9.4
Human Development Index 78/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index 27/86
Gender Inequality Index 78/186
Gender Equity Index 64/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 57/128
Global Gender Gap Index 64/68
More information on variables


Social Institutions

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures gender-based discrimination in social norms, practices and laws across 160 countries. The SIGI comprises country profiles, a classification of countries and a database; it serves as a research, policy and advocacy tool for the development community and policy makers.

The SIGI covers five dimensions of discriminatory social institutions, spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women’s lives: discriminatory family code, restricted physical integrity, son bias, restricted resources and assets, and restricted civil liberties. The SIGI’s variables quantify discriminatory social institutions such as unequal inheritance rights, early marriage, violence against women, and unequal land and property rights.

In the 2014 edition of the SIGI, Ukraine has low levels of discrimination against women in social institutions. It has lower discrimination in restricted access to resources and assets and higher discrimination in restricted civil liberties. Read the full country profile and access the data here:


The life expectancy at birth is 68 years for both sexes, females have a higher life expectancy average rate with 74 years, whereas men can expect an average of 62 years. Thus, men in the Ukraine have a slightly lower life expectancy compared to the global average of 66 years for men and 71 years for women. The adult mortality rate (per 1000 adults between 15-59 years) remains high with 274 in contrast to the global average of 176. The maternal mortality ratio is measured with 26 deaths per 100000 live births, which is comparably low when considering the global average of 260 deaths. The under-5 mortality rate has decreased significantly from 1990 till today, and is stated as 15 deaths per 1000 live births, which includes both sexes and is below the global average of 60 deaths. Prevalence of HIV occurs at 11 cases per 1000 adultus aged from 15-49 years, which is higher than the average of 8 cases globally. Tobacco smoking is certainly higher among men with 64,5% of 15+ years olds being a regular smoker and 24,1% of women smoking regularly. 15,5% of the male adult 20+ population and 23,6% of females are considered to suffer from obesity[1].


  1. WHO

Social Institutions

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 and has since geared towards reconciliation with Russia and integration with Western Europe.[1] The first few years after the independence were characterised by a period of economic decline and inflation, and the situation improved under President Leonid Kuchma, but discontent and opposition grew among the population as the government was controlling the media and accused of manipulating the political system.[2] In 2004 a mass protest called “Orange Revolution” (in reference to the main opposition movement) forced a re-run of the presidential election, which the authorities had attempted to rig.[3] Viktor Yushchenko won the elections and secured the rule of law and media freedom, but his efforts to move towards NATO and EU membership had mixed results.[4] Despite trade with EU countries exceeds that with Russia, Moscow is still the largest individual trading partner for Ukraine, as it heavily depends on Russia for its gas supplies. The country was particularly vulnerable to the global economic crisis of 2008.[5] Ukraine is classed by the World Bank as a lower middle income country.[6]

The Constitution of Ukraine upholds the principle of equality between men and women and in general terms, the country’s legislation respects the rights of women and guarantees their protection.[7] However, though a law providing for equal opportunities for men and women was passed in 2006, it lacks sufficient force to compel the punishments that it lists as the right of those who suffered gender-based discrimination.[8] Sex role stereotypes also persist concerning the primacy of a woman’s ideal role as wife and mother, which limits women’s ability to rise in the professional world.[9] This effect is exacerbated by the low level of female participation and representation in electoral politics and decision-making bodies: women account for 19% of the candidates in the 2006 parliamentary elections.[10]

Ukraine ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981, and the Optional Protocol on violence against women in 2003.[11]

The country’s Human Development Index (HDI) score is 0.729, placing it in 76th place out of a total of 187 countries.[12] The Gender Inequality Index is 0.335, placing it in 57th place (out of 146 countries).[13] Ukraine’s 2011 Global Gender Gap Index ranking is 0.6861, placing it in 64th place (out of 135 countries).[14]

Discriminatory Family Code

The legal minimum age for marriage is 17 years for women and 18 years for men. However, the courts can authorise marriage from the age of 14 years if it can be shown that the marriage is “in the person’s interests.”[15] The incidence of early marriage is quite high for a European country. The 2007 Demographic and Health Survey estimated that 6.6% of girls aged 15 to 19 were married or living together, separated, divorced, or widowed.[16] A 2005 United Nations report estimated that 10.5% of women between 20 and 49 years of age were married before age 18.[17] Otherwise the Family Code stipulates that marriage be between consenting adults of age. The code is broadly in line with public sentiment; a 2007 Pew survey found that 77% of respondents thought that a woman should choose her own husband.[18]

There is no evidence that polygamy is a common practice in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, parental authority is shared by the mother and father, and parents have equal rights and responsibilities regarding their children’s development and education.[19]

There is no evidence of legal discrimination against women in regard to inheritance.

Restricted Physical Integrity

Traditionally, domestic violence in Ukraine is considered a “family matter,” and law enforcement has been disinclined to intervene.[20] In recent years the government has increased its efforts to address the issue. Ukraine strengthened the 2001 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act with a new law in 2009 that allowed police to jail those accused of perpetrating violence. It is also stepping up public information and education campaigns, as well as its counseling services (for both victims and perpetrators). Law enforcement handles tens of thousands of cases annually.[21] The law requires the government to operate shelters for victims of domestic violence in every major city, but in practice, they do not. This is in part due to the lack of municipal funding and insufficient oversight from the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sports.[22]

According to the 2007 DHS, one in six women reported experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime.[23] According to women's rights groups, only one tenth of domestic violence cases were reported, and approximately 90% of domestic violence victims were women.[24] Further, 8% of women in Ukraine had experienced violence in the past year.[25] Domestic violence does not receive wide public acceptance. In a 2006 public opinion survey, 72.4% of respondents thought that it was never justifiable for a man to beat his wife.[26] The 2007 DHS found that just 4% of women and 11% of men thought that wife beating was justifiable for any reason.[27]

Rape is prohibited by the Ukranian Criminal Code, but the law contains no specific reference to spousal rape. Perpetrators of spousal rape are punished under a law prohibiting “forced sexual relations with a materially dependent person.”[28]

The law on equal rights and opportunities recognises sexual harassment as discrimination, but it does not constitute an effective mechanism to protect women from sexual harassment in the workplace.[29]

Trafficking is a problem in Ukraine. Articles 149 and 303 of the Criminal Code are being amended, with the view to implement the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. In January 2006 an act was adopted to amend the Criminal Code of Criminal Procedure to establish criminal liability for trafficking in persons, recruitment of persons for prostitution, and living off the earnings of prostitutes. A bill was also drafted on compensation for harm suffered by victims of crimes of violence.[30] Women that are trafficked are used as housekeepers, seamstresses, dishwashers or workers in various manufacturing plants or abroad.[31]

There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is practised in Ukraine.

Knowledge of contraceptives in Ukraine is nearly universal. Usage rates are lower, with 65.5% of women married or in union reporting using contraceptives with their partner.[32] According to the 2007 DHS, usage of modern methods has increased by 34% since 1999.[33] Few women in Ukraine hide their use of contraception from their husbands/partners.[34] The government of Ukraine is taking active steps to further increase knowledge and acceptance of contraception via its “Reproductive Health of the Nation for the Period until 2015” program, which supports the purchase of contraceptives to be given at no cost to women who wish to avoid pregnancy or childbirth for health reasons.[35] Virtually all women and men in Ukraine believe that a woman is justified in refusing sex or requesting that the man use a condom if he carries an STD.[36] There are no legal restrictions with regards to abortion in Ukraine.[37]

Son Bias

The 2010 female-to-male ratio for primary school enrollment is 1.00 and for secondary school enrollment is 1.01, indicating that there is no preferential treatment of sons with respect to access to education.[38] However, in terms of working children, figures from the 2005 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicate that out of working children aged 7-14 years, girls spend on average 7.7 hours per week in economic activity when boys spend only 2 hours per week.[39]

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.85.[40]

There is no evidence to suggest that Ukraine is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

Restricted Resources and Entitlements

The Constitution guarantees women’s legal rights to access to land and property other than land. By law, joint property acquired during marriage belongs equally to both spouses.[41]

Presidential Decree No. 1356/2000 initiated the 2001 agrarian reforms, which transformed the country’s collective farms into agricultural businesses. This process included the names of all women entitled to a plot of land as members of individual enterprises.[42]

The Ukrainian legal framework gives women equal access to bank loans, but in practice accessing loans is difficult for both men and women: for example, often the credit offered to women is short-term and at very high interest.[43] Following the 2001 agrarian reform, many women in rural areas established credit unions in order to improve their access to credit through the State Employment Programme of 2001-2004.[44]

Restricted Civil Liberties

The Ukrainian Constitution guarantees both the freedom of speech and expression and since the Orange Revolution the government has refrained from direct political interference with the media. It also guarantees the right to peaceful assembly, as long as organisers give the authorities enough notice of any demonstrations.[45]

Women’s level of political participation in Ukraine is low. Just 36 of 450 parliamentarians, or 8%, are women following the 2007 elections.[46] However, women have held many positions of authority in the government in recent years, including Prime Minister, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Head of the State Treasury, and the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, among others.[47] In addition, 54.8% of those polled agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, ‘Men make better political leaders than women do.’[48] However, a 2007 Pew survey that asked a similar question provided an option to rate men and women equally, and found that while 34% still viewed men more favorably, 52% rated men and women as equally capable.[49]

Ukraine maintains generous maternity leave policies. Employed women are entitled to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave at full pay, plus up to three years leave at minimum wage for child care at the mother’s request.[50] However the generosity of these benefits also leads to gender-based discriminatory hiring practices, as employers attempt to avoid hiring women of child bearing age to reduce costs.[51] Women in Ukraine do not see work and family as incompatible. Fully 83% of women surveyed in 2006 agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, ‘A working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work.’ Additionally, just 32.5% believe that men should be given priority over women in terms of employment when employment is scarce.[52]


  1. BBC News (2011), Croatia country profile, (accessed 21 October 2011)
  2. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2011) World Factbook: Russia, online edition, (accessed 21 October 2011)
  3. CIA (2011)
  4. CIA (2011)
  5. CIA (2011)
  6. World Bank (n.d.) Data: Ukraine, (accessed 21 October 2011)
  7. Article 24 of the Constitution of Ukraine; see esp. the Criminal Code, the Labour Code and the Act on the Payment of Wages; CEDAW (2008), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Ukraine, Combined Sixth and Seventh Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/UKR/7, CEDAW, New York, NY (accessed 21 October 2011), p. 22; Women’s Consortium of Ukraine (ed.) (2008), Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in Ukraine, Women’s Consortium of Ukraine: Kiev, Ukraine, p. 7
  8. Articles 23 and 24 of the Law of Ukraine On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men, promulgated 1 Jan. 2006; Women’s Consortium 2008, pp. 9-10
  9. CEDAW 2008, p. 31; Women’s Consortium 2008, p. 18
  10. CEDAW 2008, p. 41
  11. United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) (2010): Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, countries ratified. CEDAW: (accessed 21 October 2011); Optional Protocol: (accessed 21 October 2011)
  12. United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at (accessed 29 February 2012), p.128
  13. United Nations Development Programme (2011) p.140
  14. World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at (accessed 2 March 2012), p.10
  15. Articles 22 and 23 of the Family Code; CEDAW 2008, p. 81
  16. Ukrainian Center for Social Reforms (UCSR), State Statistical Committee (SSC) [Ukraine], Ministry of Health (MOH) [Ukraine], and Macro International Inc. (2008). Ukraine Demographic and Health Survey 2007. UCSR and Macro International: Calverton, Maryland, USA, Table 7.1.
  17. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) (2005), Ukraine Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2005, UNICEF, New York, NY, Table CP.5
  18. Pew Research Center (2007), Pew Global Attitudes Project: Spring 2007 Survey, Pew Global Attitudes Project, Washington, DC., Q.44
  19. Articles 51 and 121 of the Family Code; CEDAW 2008, pp. 81-82
  20. Women’s Consortium 2008, pp. 42-43
  21. US Department of State (2010), 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC
  22. State Dept. 2010
  23. Ukrainian Center for Social Reforms (UCSR), et al., (2008), Ukraine Demographic and Health Survey 2007, Table 14.1
  24. U.S. State Dept., (2010) 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine
  25. DHS 2008, Table 14.1
  26. World Values Survey (2006), Selected Country/Sample: Ukraine, World Values Survey, available (accessed 17 Dec 2009), Question V208
  27. DHS 2008, Tables 13.6.1 and 13.6.2
  28. Article 152 of the Criminal Code; Law of Ukraine On Prevention of Domestic Violence (2001); CEDAW 2008, p. 14
  29. US Department of State (2010a) ‘2010 Country Reports on Human Rights: Ukraine, (accessed 21 October 2011)
  30. CEDAW (2008)
  31. US Department of State (2010a)
  32. MICS 2005, Table RH.1
  33. DHS 2008,Table 5.1
  34. DHS 2008, Table 5.17
  35. CEDAW 2008, p. 82; DHS 2008, p. 43
  36. DHS 2008, Tables 13.7.1 and 13.7.2. See also Table 12.6
  37. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2011), World Abortion Policies 2011, available online: (accessed 21 October 2011)
  38. World Economic Forum (2010) ‘The Global Gender Gap Report’, (accessed 21 October 2011)
  39. Understanding Children’s Work Programme (2005), Inter-agency research cooperation initiative involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF and the World Bank, MICS III, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, available online, (accessed 21 October 2011)
  40. Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Fact Book: Sex Ratio, available at (accessed 29 February 2012)
  41. Article 60 of the Family Code; CEDAW 2008, p. 83
  42. CEDAW 2008, p. 75, 78
  43. Women’s Consortium 2008, p. 39
  44. CEDAW 2008, p. 78
  45. Freedom House (2010) Freedom in the World Country Reports: Ukraine, online edition, (accessed 21 October 2011)
  46. Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments, IPU: Geneva,
  47. State Dept. 2010
  48. WVS Question V61
  49. Pew 2007, Q.43
  50. Article 179 of the ILO (International Labour Organization) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, ILO: Geneva, Switzerland (accessed 30 April 2010); SSA (Social Security Administration), ISSA (International Social Security Association) (2008), Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe, 2008, SSA: Washington, DC, p. 321; CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) (1999), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Ukraine, Fourth Periodic Report of States Parties, CEDAW/C/UKR/4-5, CEDAW, New York, NY, p. 59
  51. Women’s Consortium 2008, pp. 35, 39
  52. World Values Survey (WVS) (2006), Selected Country/Sample: Ukraine, Question V60

The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women? 

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Ukraine, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Ukraine


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