Women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship and better targeted services

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit women disproportionately harder than men. The ILO-UNDP joint initiative aims to stimulate an economic recovery for women in Ukraine, out of the crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic crisis in Ukraine as lockdown measures and other restrictions involved temporary closure of most businesses, particularly in the service sector. The pandemic almost halted economic activity altogether apart from a few key sectors (such as transport, food production and sale, agriculture and pharmaceutical production and sale).

Among the hardest hit by the pandemic are women. As there are more women represented in the sectors that were shut down, many were left without a job. Furthermore, the burden of unpaid care and domestic responsibilities has increased for many, as schools have been closed and many parents had to home school their children for months. Often, women find themselves in informal employment, which excludes them from receiving social protection. The pandemic has forced even more women into informal working arrangements.   

To counteract such effects, the ILO has joined forces with UNDP for an intervention that stimulates economic empowerment targeting women as a response to the COVID-19 crisis in Ukraine. The project has a two-fold approach: 1) Improving services offered to women-led enterprises, and 2) training women on skills that help them create employment for themselves or expand their already existing businesses.

The project will have four main activities. Besides several events to encourage inclusive policy dialogue, 4 local communities and 2 Business Membership Organizations will be supported to offer better targeted services to women-led businesses. In addition, it will provide 100 women with training to advance their entrepreneurial skills by applying modules of the world’s largest entrepreneurship development programme, the ILO Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB). Also, businesses will receive e-commerce training so that they can have a larger clientele.

The project will be piloted in two target regions of Ukraine, in the Rivne and Sumy oblasts.