New study on rural women rights reveals gaps and challenges

May 4, 2015

Kyiv – UNDP and the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights presented a comprehensive study on the status of rights of women living in the rural areas of Ukraine.

The Constitution of Ukraine clearly states that all men and women have equal rights and equal opportunities in access to education, employment, promotion, remuneration and participation in the social, political and cultural life of society. In reality, however, women are often not treated as equals.

To respond to this situation, UNDP in Ukraine together with the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights launched a comprehensive study on the status of rights of women living in the rural areas of Ukraine. The study offers a coherent look at the situation of rural women in terms of the human rights enshrined in Article 14 of CEDAW, as well as presents an assessment of the prevalence of domestic violence, rural women’s awareness of their rights, and thereof possible protection mechanisms.

Here are several interesting numbers and facts from the report:

-          Average monthly salary of women working in the area of agriculture  constitutes only 89,3% of that of men;

-          48% of women,  living in the rural areas,  do not have medical care centers or hospitals in the vicinity;

-          Over 1/3 (36%) of the rural women do not participate in decision-making in their communities, including elections (due to the lack of time and low belief that their participation can bring changes);

-          32% of rural women do not access to drinking water in their houses (they have to use outside wells);

-          58% of women do not have sewage and toilet facilities in their houses;

-          67% of rural women do not access to Internet at home;

-          Age gap between rural women and men are higher than that that in the cities – women over 60 years old constitute 29% of rural population versus to 24% in urban areas;

-          55% of rural women do not report on domestic violence cases.

Based on the collected data, the report directs attention to both the contribution that women make in rural areas, and the many constraints they face. It covers data on rural women’s access to community development planning; adequate health care facilities and social security benefits; formal and informal education; public and advisory services; organization of cooperatives; participation in all forms of collective action; agricultural loans, marketing systems; adequate living conditions, particularly, housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications. The main findings reveal that the situation of rural women is worse than those of rural men and urban women and men in the above noted spheres. These limitations prevent them from fully enjoying their human rights, improving their lives and that of their families and communities.

The data of this survey can be used as the baseline of the status and problems of rural women in Ukraine for the upcoming alternative CEDAW report, which is to be prepared in 2015 by the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ukrainian CSOs with the support of UNDP’s Democratization and Human Rights in Ukraine project.

In midst of the ongoing country’s systemic reform agenda, it is of a high importance to address gender issues in rural areas by all the stakeholders. Thus, the publication offers recommendations for the executive branch, local self-government, Parliament, Office of the Ombudsperson of Ukraine, mass media, academia, civil society organizations, and other human rights activists to reinvigorate their commitment to the value of equal opportunities for all the members of the society.    

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Over the last 20 years, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine has been working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly accelerating the country’s progress towards gender equity as an imperative for achieving inclusive and sustainable development. The status of different groups of women, especially those living in rural areas, is an important indicator of human development. Given the particular set of problems faced by rural women, including limited access to health care, education, employment, and social benefits, more attention and support should be granted to this group. 

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