Despite the war Ukraine keeps up the reform process: addressing the gender pay gap is high on agenda

In early May, the Government of Ukraine, with the personal support of Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine presented the National Strategy and Action Plan to reduce the gender pay gap in the country. In addition to constituting equal opportunities, pay equity is also a means to the recovery and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine as the country urgently needs to increase female participation in the labour force. The ILO provided technical assistance to the drafting of the strategy.

News | 12 June 2023
The Strategy and the Action Plan are part of the long-standing ambition to close the gender pay gap, framed under The Biarritz Partnership, initiative of Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine. Ukraine joined the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) in 2020. Withstanding the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian Government did not hesitate to return to the issue of pay equity as a means of equitable recovery and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.

The launch of the strategy and action plan, jointly organised by the ILO and UN Women, was held on 11 May in Kyiv under Olena Zelenska’s auspices. It means a major step forward in the fight for gender equity in Ukraine.

Olena Zelenska  © ILO 
“Now the state has to continue what it has started, because one of the values that Ukraine is fighting for is equality of opportunities, including gender equality.”
Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine

According to the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine, the gender pay gap in Ukraine stands at 18,6% compared to 13% in the European Union. The Strategy and its Implementation Plan, spanning to 2030, aim to close the gap seeking to address its root causes, such as:

  • occupational segregation, including stereotypes about gender roles, especially when it comes to women's and men's occupations and family responsibilities
  • gender-based discrimination, violence and harassment in the world of work
  • legal loopholes in equal pay and capacities of labour market institutions to implement the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, and
  • availability and effective use of gender-disaggregated labour market data.
The national documents were developed with technical assistance from the ILO and UN Women – co-sponsors of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) – and peer support from EPIC Secretariat and EPIC members from Canada, Switzerland and the UK.

The ongoing labour law reform is a unique opportunity to introduce the notion of equal pay for work of equal value, non-discrimination and workers with family responsibilities in the Ukrainian legislation, in accordance with relevant ILO Conventions, which are already ratified by Ukraine. It is also an opportunity to ratify new ILO Conventions on maternity protection (No.183), on domestic workers (No.189) and on violence and harassment in the world of work (No.190).

“These instruments will create a robust legal base for the labour market institutions and the social partners to effectively tackle the problem of pay equity from different angles”, - said Kateryna Levchenko, the Government Commissioner for Gender Equality.

The media campaign “Of course you can!” was also launched at the event with the goal of raising public awareness about pay inequality in Ukraine.

The Equal Pay International Coalition is an initiative led by the ILO, UN Women and the OECD. It brings together government agencies, employers' and workers' organizations, UN agencies, the private sector, NGOs and academia to work together to achieve an inclusive world of work, where women and men receive equal pay for work of equal value, across all countries and sectors. By 2030, in line with the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development, EPIC is working towards the universal ratification of ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100) and the implementation of equal pay initiatives by governments and the private sector. Members of the Coalition from Ukraine are the Government of Ukraine, the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine, and the Kyiv Institute for Gender Research.