CONGRESS TOPICS

CREATING FAVORABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN TO RECEIVE EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENT IS A WAY TO OVERCOME GENDER GAPS

During the Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Lviv, Hanna Herasymenko, Senior Researcher of the Institute of Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D. in Economics, delivered a presentation “Gender imbalances in the socio-economic sphere in Ukraine” to its participants.

The idea of gender equality as the equality of opportunities to implement the rights of women and men forms the basis of human development: expansion of freedoms and opportunities of people aimed at improving the quality of their lives.

The basic concepts of human development are people’s health, lifespan and decent living standards. Unfortunately, according to Ms. Herasymenko, Ukraine’s position in the world ranking of human development has declined recently. The gender component has played an important role here.

According to statistics, in the distribution of gross national income, women earn almost twice less than men (USD 6,082 and 10,513 per capita, respectively).

Women’s lesser access to resources results in lesser access to the proper level of services (medicine, education). According to the UN, the estimated index of women’s development is lower than that of men. The most important reason for this is the gap in the income level of men and women (20-25%), which, unfortunately, remains rather stable.

The speaker noted that among the reasons for this gap is the fact that women work in areas considered less prestigious and, accordingly, lower paid. That is, women prevail in budget areas of activity, while far more men are engaged in the industry, IT. During the research, 70-80% of respondents said that in Ukraine there is a division of the labor market into “women’s” and “men’s” professions, i.e. a “horizontal” gender division of the labor market by professions and activities. Another important factor of the gender gap is the so-called “vertical segregation of employment”: senior executive posts are generally occupied by men.
According to Ms. Herasymenko, to a large extent these phenomena are conditioned by adverse gender stereotypes existing in the Ukrainian society. However, these and other objective causes of gender gap (differences in education, experience, working hours, and forms of employment) according to model estimation determine less than 10% of the total gender gap in payroll. The rest is direct or indirect discrimination of women in terms of earnings.

According to the speaker, the main adverse consequence of gender gap is that women are more likely to face the risk of poverty, especially in old age. A specific socially vulnerable group is formed: single elderly women who received low wages and, accordingly, have low pension (according to statistics, the old-age pension for women is 30% lower than for men).

However, lonely elderly women are just one of the poverty profiles that have a gender aspect. According to the speaker, these also include single mothers with minor children, rural residents, unemployed women.

At the end of the presentation, Ms. Herasymenko noted that education is an important factor to prevent vulnerability of women and overcome poverty. Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that the division into women’s and men’s activities begins as early as at the level of education. Although there are currently some positive changes in the country, gender norms undergo gradual transformation among young women and men, work to overcome gender stereotypes, especially at the level of school education, remains extremely relevant.

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