Is Ukraine making strides toward a more equal society?

As Ukraine comes under review by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in February 2017, women's rights activists groups draw up their lists of issues and questions to guide the CEDAW Committee's examination of the State periodic report on compliance with CEDAW's requirements.

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In order to offer independent insights into the Ukrainian Government's progress towards ending gender discrimination as per its obligations under the Convention adopted in 1979, the Gender Strategic Platform – a UNDP-supported coalition of women's and human rights organisations comprising over 45 civil society organizations (CSOs) – is currently collating information on the situation of women across the country to prepare a shadow report to be submitted to the CEDAW Committee ahead of Ukraine's review in Geneva.
Reporting on Government's efforts in ending gender discrimination
The shadow report points that most of the State's priority reforms do not apply gender equality approaches neither to the reform agenda, nor to the expert team. No assessment of the gender impact of reforms is being carried out either.
Civic activists also emphasize a gap in employment opportunities. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, there are 700,000 less working women aged 15-70 (7.9 millions) than working men in the same age bracket (8.6 millions). Official statistics also show that women on average earn 35.6% less per month (3,966 UAH) than men (5,379 UAH) for equivalent positions and skills.
However, civil society groups have also noted a number of positive developments, particularly on police reform: Ukrainian police is now 25% female, and women police officers today patrol the streets for the first time in Ukrainian history. In addition, the number of women MPs has increased by 1.4%, and the parliamentary subcommittee on gender equality and non-discrimination has started work which resulted in the adoption of several important pieces of legislation for the advancement of women, such as the Law "On Local Elections", which sets gender quotas for electoral lists.
Ukrainian Government's way forward
Based on the issues raised this summer by the Gender Strategic Platform and other civil society organisations relating to the 8th periodic report presented by Ukraine, the CEDAW Committee's pre-sessional working group has prepared a list of questions covering 15 thematic areas in gender-related human rights challenges currently faced by the Ukrainian state.
The Committee's questions mostly focus on women's participation in political and public life, legislative and institutional framework and access to justice, national mechanisms for the advancement of women, gender-based violence against women and employment. The Committee also places particular emphasis on the protection of women affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine (Romas, the elderly and rural women), as well as on the situation of internally displaced women, which were not covered by the state report.
The CEDAW Committee asked the Ukrainian state delegation to underline the measures taken for gender mainstreaming for the implementation of at least 18 ongoing reforms in the country, including constitutional reform decentralization, justice, and human rights.
As the Ukrainian Government is preparing answers to all these questions, the next step is to engage in a dialogue with the CEDAW Committee members in Geneva on Ukraine's detailed plan to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.