Will Ukraine be ready for the next review by the CEDAW Committee in Geneva?

Dec 19, 2016

Kyiv, 19 December 2016 – The Gender Strategic Platform, a gender equality coalition supported by UNDP, has presented today to representatives of the Parliament and of the Ombudsperson’s Office  the 8th Alternative Periodic Report of the civil society organizations on the implementation by Ukraine of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

In February 2017 Ukraine comes under review by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted in 1979 and ratified by 189 states, including Ukraine, that is now legally bound to put its provisions into practice and to submit national reports every four years on measures taken to comply with the convention obligations. Often described as an international bill of rights for women, the Convention defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

Gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the heart of United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) mandate. With the Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017, UNDP is well placed to ensure that gender equality and the empowerment of women are integrated into every aspect of its work to support countries to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities and exclusion. In Ukraine UNDP supports the Gender Strategic Platform - a coalition of women's and human rights organisations comprising over 45 civil society organizations (CSOs) – which prepared the 8thh Alternative Periodic Report about the situation of women across the country. Civil society groups plan to submit to the CEDAW Committee their own reports on the prevalence of various forms of discrimination and violence against women in Ukraine, as grassroots alternative testimonies of the substantial and entrenched barriers Ukrainian women still grapple with in different areas of their lives. This report will be submitted to the CEDAW Committee ahead of Ukraine’s review in Geneva.

The alternative report points out 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 noticed a number of positive developments, particularly on police reform: Ukrainian police is now composed for 25% by women, and female 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. This 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.

Main issues of concerns regard the situation of Roma women, gender-based violence in the zone of armed conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk and the consequences of armed conflict on women, the participation of women in efforts to create and maintain peace and security, as well as the situation of women on the labor market.

These main topics of the Alternative Report were discussed during a roundtable organized today in Kyiv by the Gender Strategic Platform. During the rountable experts and gender specialists presented the 8th Alternative Report to representatives of the Parliament, state agencies and ministries. In the discussion participated among others Iryna Suslova, Member of Parliament, Head of the Sub-Committee on Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations; Blerta Cela, UNDP Deputy Country Director; Igor Gutsulyak, UNDP Gender and Democratic Governance Consultant; and Aksana Filipishyna, representative of the Ombudswoman, head of department for promoting children's rights, non-discrimination and gender equality of the Secretariat of Ombudsperson's Office.

NEXT STEPS

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 groups particularly 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 in 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.

This initiative is supported under the framework of UNDP's Democratization, Human Rights and Civil Society Development Project, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

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