Statement by Ms. Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, at the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Statement by Ms. Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, at the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Dear Madame Chair, distinguished delegates,

as Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, I am grateful for the opportunity to address the 62nd session of the UN Commission of Women.

Ukraine, following the international trend reaffirms its commitment to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women under the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Last year, in line with the strategic objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action, the Ukrainian Government has designated my Office as the central policy-coordinating unit in the Cabinet of Ministers. In addition to elevating the role of government-wide gender mainstreaming we’ve also established the position of Government Commissioner on Gender Equality Policy. The Commissioner will strengthen coordination and monitoring of government gender equality commitments.

Ukraine recognizes that sustainable development is impossible without full empowerment of women. I’m glad that UN Commission on the status of women focuses its attention today on rural women. In Ukraine, rural women play a crucial role in maintaining and improving rural livelihoods and strengthening rural communities.

However, women living in rural areas continue to face structural inequalities and multiple forms of discrimination that serve as barriers to full realization of their human rights.

The Secretary-General in his report points out that globally, on every gender and development indicator for which data are available, rural women are in less favorable position than urban women and men, and they, as a rule, experience poverty and lack of possibilities.

In Ukraine, every third woman is rural one. All together in my country there are over 7.5 million rural women, and as a group they face limited access to justice, education, housing, skills development and training opportunities, as well as healthcare and affordable services. Due to these constraints they are limited in representation and participation in decision-making.

Rural women in Ukraine are also more vulnerable to gender-based violence than women living in urban areas and 55 % of rural women do not report domestic violence cases. Furthermore, survivors of gender-based violence have very limited access to quality services or shelters in rural areas.

Since 2014, when Russian aggression against Ukraine has begun, the conflict had further exacerbated gender inequalities, particularly for women living in rural areas. The conflict has resulted in widespread human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence. In Ukraine during four years of the war, 1.6 million people are internally displaced women and children. They make up 60 % of those who are under the poverty line, having difficulties accessing healthcare, particularly in rural areas in the region. Women living with HIV in eastern rural areas along the contact line are especially vulnerable due to lack of medicines and shortage of qualified medical staff, high stigma and lack of low threshold service points.

The CEDAW Committee expressed concern in their Concluding Observations for the precarious situation of rural women in conflict-affected areas, who often bear a disproportionate burden because their rights to productivity, livelihood and access to land are regularly violated there.

The recently adopted State programme for the restoration and development of peace in the eastern regions of Ukraine till 2021 is among other things focused on the creation of new jobs and increasing employment for the most vulnerable groups, including support for women to start their own businesses. Restoration of social, energy and transportation infrastructure, including the reconstruction of social protection and healthcare facilities, as well as housing for internally displaced persons will address a number of the needs of rural women who have been affected by the conflict.

According the CEDAW Observations unemployment rates are considerably higher in rural areas, and the ongoing economic situation, combined with women’s limited access to resources and shortage of childcare facilities throughout the country, limit rural women’s access to paid work. Most rural women of the working age are informally employed or self-employed and therefore lack social protection.

The Government of Ukraine considers these inequalities to be very serious and is working hard to address them.

A new State Programme on Equal Rights and Opportunities, which is to be adopted, will further strengthen the State response to gender inequalities with a specific focus on women and girls experiencing multiple forms of discrimination, such as rural women and girls. Activities will include strengthening the legal framework and improving the access of rural women and girls to basic social services, health services, education, labour and employment, infrastructure and new technologies, access to administrative services, and efforts to increase their participation in political and public life. The State Programme will also include training activities for women from rural areas on developing small enterprises, farming and rural cooperatives, as well as introduce a mechanism to provide rural women with preferential loans to start their own businesses.

The Government with the support of UN Women Ukraine also succeeded in mainstreaming gender in the localized Sustainable Development Goals framework. Ukraine’s local framework, which was adopted last year, integrates gender in 10 of 17 Goals. The implementation of the SDGs in Ukraine, along with the implementation of the ongoing State reforms in different areas, provide a real opportunity to improve collection of sex and age disaggregated data in rural areas to better identify the needs of rural women, as well as to address the inequalities and ensure participation, rights and priorities of rural women in Ukraine’s reform agenda.

Ukraine recognizes that rural women and girls make significant contributions to the development of their local and national economies, agriculture and household livelihoods, yet often suffer the greatest burden of poverty, discrimination and exclusion. Let us all ensure that this important population is not left behind in our efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.

Thank you for your attention.