Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Social and economic rights

Ukraine: women are discriminated on the labor-market


Sexual discrimination in Ukraine deprives women of the opportunity to work, and the Ukrainian government does nothing for the improvement of the situation, reads the report of the non-governmental organization “Human Rights Watch”.

The 60-page report “Women’s labor: discrimination of women on the Ukrainian labor-market” describes how the Ukrainian employers discriminate the women, who are looking for job, by announcing the vacancies and by the methods of conducting the interviews.

Both state organizations and private structures usually give preference to men in the announcements about free vacancies. The employers also use the information about the family status of the candidates, which information they get during the interviews, to substantiate the refusal to hire the women. The demands concerning the age and appearance also eliminate a great part of women, who suit this job from the professional viewpoint.

“The labor-market in Ukraine reflects the extremely archaic stereotype concept about women’s abilities”, declared LaShon Jefferson, the executive manager of “Human Rights Watch” department of women’s rights. “The government of Ukraine may not be called the protector of women, since it is tolerant to the situation, when women are doomed to the most poorly-paid and humiliating jobs”.

The authorities regularly deny the existence of the discrimination of women on the Ukrainian labor-market. Yet, the inspectors of the Ministry of labor and social policy lack the wish and the professional skills for investigating the discrimination practices.

At the same time, the State Employment Service endorses such discrimination. The service publishes the announcements about free vacancies, in which the desirable sex of the candidates is pointed out. The Service even demands from the employers to express their wishes about the sex of the candidates.

The government of Ukraine signed a number of international agreements, which prohibit the discrimination of women on the labor-market, in particular the Convention on the extermination of all forms of discrimination of women and anti-discrimination Convention No. 111 of the International labor organization.

The announcements about free vacancies, in which the desirable sex of the candidates is pointed out, are published in the Ukrainian newspapers and magazines, on the Internet sites. The state employment centers, private employment firms and agencies also spread announcements of such kind regularly. The announcements with such demands as, for example “… a woman from 18 to 30 years old with the attractive appearance” are the common phenomena.

The demands on the sex of candidates exist in all spheres. Men-candidates are demanded both in the announcements about the vacancies for blue-collar workers and the announcements about the vacancies for managers. The majority of the vacancies for women concern the sphere of service, such as the jobs of waitresses or housemaids, as well as the underpaid professional jobs, for example, of secretaries or accountants. As a result, women even do not pretend to many other jobs that correspond to their professional skills and qualification.

The discrimination during interviews is also practiced, and an interview can be rather rigorous and humiliating for the women-candidates. The employers question the women about their age, family status, atmosphere in their families and job of their husbands. The potential bosses take the decisions on the basis of the obtained information. For example, young women get the refusal more often, since the employers believe that the thoughts of women in this age are occupied with the upbringing of children.

The women, who are older than 35, also come across the serious obstacles, since the majority of vacancies (secretaries, nurses and waitresses) are regarded as the jobs for young women only.

In order to solve the problem of the widespread discrimination of women on the Ukrainian labor-market “Human Rights Watch” proposes to the government of Ukraine:

-  to condemn publicly the discrimination of women in all spheres of employment, including the announcements about vacancies;

-  to guarantee the absence of the discrimination at the employment to state establishments and organizations, to stop the practice of stipulating the sex of candidates in the announcements about vacancies;

-  to adopt the legal acts aimed at the extermination of sexual restrictions in the sphere of obtaining the privileges concerning the baby-minding (except the maternity leave);

-  to conduct, jointly with the NGOs, employers’ groups, etc., the all-Ukrainian enlightenment campaigns for women, who are looking for job, representatives of the power and state officials, with the purpose of increasing the level of knowledge about the sexual discrimination and sexual harassment, as well as about the official opportunities of recompensing the moral damage to those, whose rights were abused.

“Human Rights Watch” also turned to the international organizations with the appeal to take the urgent measures for the liquidation of the discrimination. In particular, “Human Rights Watch” suggested to the governments of the USA and other countries to include the anti-discrimination educational components to the assistance programs aimed at the support of women’s rights and the prevention of slave trade.

“Human Rights Watch” asked the European Union to help the Ukrainian government to bring the Ukrainian legislation into accord with the EU standards concerning the non-discrimination and equality of women on labor-market. It also turned to the International labor organization with the request to organize the additional education of state officials, in particular, the inspectors of the Ministry of labor and social policy, on the sexual aspects of labor rights and the conduction of service investigations of the complaints.

The “Human Rights Watch” report is placed on the Internet site

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