Women are one the biggest groups that suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic

Women and the pandemic was one of the topics of the panel discussion on women’s empowerment at the Fourth Ukrainian Women’s Congress.

Maryna Lazebna, the Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, said that among those who asked for state help during the first lockdown in Ukraine, the majority were women.

“When COVID-19 came, it was stressful and shocking for me. The first thing I did was draw a map including those groups we can help. In particular, I realized that individual entrepreneurs will not shut down, they will try to preserve their business and most likely be excluded from the programs of state support. So we have come up with the idea of a program of supporting families with children. The program lasted from May to September. 87 thousand of individual entrepreneurs took part in the program. About 115 thousand of children received our help. Among those who contacted us for help were mostly women. We have renewed the program now. We don’t ask people to come and apply for help again. Those 87 thousand entrepreneurs will receive state support automatically. Of course, there are people who haven’t applied before and we will review their applications,” the Minister of Social Policy said.

“When COVID-19 hit the small businesses hard, the Government [of Canada] did not hesitate to introduce legislation to ensure that they continue to serve their communities and make a strong recovery possible. Our experience shows that when institutions and policies target those who are most in need of support, we all benefit. Consistently, Canada is focusing its support for economic growth in Ukraine on those in the greatest need including women entrepreneurs. Sadly, we know the pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities: unemployment and women’s caretaking duties increased. Added to that, Ukrainian women make up to 83% of healthcare workers. Gender-based violence is also made worse by the pandemic. To address these issues, we have supported the humanitarian fund for Ukraine. I am happy to announce another seven million dollars project with the UN to address sexual and gender-based violence in Ukraine. These initiatives are extremely important for our short-term COVID-19 response, but we also need to look at the long-term,” Kamal Khera, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Development of Canada, said.

During the pandemic, we have to pay more attention to support for female entrepreneurship. “The civilized world does not give full opportunities to women, we don’t use women’s potential in business fully,” MP Nina Yuzhanina said. “I pay a lot of attention to this issue in my legislative work. We have to understand that statistics showing women suffered from job cuts in the service sector the most, has to motivate us to better analyze which women we have to support now. We will support all business, of course. But our special attention goes to women’s entrepreneurship,” Ms Yuzhanina said.

During the second wave of the pandemic lockdown, the government promised the entrepreneurs new programs of support, including eight thousand hryvnias of support for individual entrepreneurs and those who lost their jobs. According to preliminary calculations, about 1,2 million people will be able to receive help within the program. The general amount of funds granted is expected to reach 10 billion hryvnias.

The businesses that did not shut down but had to limit their work due to the so-called weekend quarantine will also receive compensations. The tax burden will be decreased by 1,5 billion for more than 120 companies. The President also promised to cover the debts of more than four million citizens who have debts up to UAH 3060.

About 200 thousand of the individual entrepreneurs belonging to the first group in Ukraine will be freed from paying taxes when the restrictive measures are strengthened.