How does the gender pay gap affect the economy and how to change it?

In Ukraine, like in most European countries, the women’s employment rate is much lower than that of men

This gap is caused by gender pay gap, legislative restrictions, the structure of the economy, child care possibilities, and the impact of culture and particularities of the public policy.

Women and men have different employment conditions in view of the need of childcare. This is one of the key reasons why fewer women work. Only 67% of working age women work, as opposed to 78% of men. These figures are taken from the national statistics. Obstacles barring women from taking a job, as mentioned by women polled in the frame of survey conducted by the CES (Centre for Economic Strategy), are as follows: unavailability of a childcare alternative (for 29% it was the most important factor); their own desire to care for children (28%), and the lack of confidence in them being able to find a job (13%).

Other obstacles can be seen in the survey graph below:

“According to the Labour Code, it is prohibited for an employer to send a woman who has a child under the age of three on a business trip. The logic of employers is that the child has no one else, but the mother, whereas the father is absent in this picture”, – said Tamara Martseniuk, PhD in Sociology, Associate Professor of Sociology, Kyiv Mohyla Academy, describing unequal working conditions for men and women.

The state should be interested in expanding childcare facilities and narrowing the gender employment gap. The CES findings show the Ukrainian economy could grow by about $ 7.53 billion (equal to 7% of GDP) if women’ employment rate is brought to the same level as that of men.

“The workforce in Ukraine is decreasing at a very rapid rate and, if nothing changes, in five years, we will lose over one million people who work”, said Olga Kupets, PhD in Economics, Associate Professor at the Public Policy and Governance Department at the Kiev School of Economics.

In order to increase the women’s employment rate, the CES recommends as follows:

  • ● to increase the number of places in nursery schools, especially in the areas with the highest demand for such schools;
  • ● to improve the quality of nursery schools (longer working hours, greater diversity of subject matters in the training curricula to choose from; improved nutrition; reduced number of children in the group);
  • ● to partially compensate the cost of private childcare facilities;
  • ● to guarantee nursery school priority admission to children, whose both parents work;
  • ● to abolish legal restrictions on women’s work in certain industries and at certain times;
  • ● to encourage creating more jobs with the possibility to work from home and more part-time jobs;
  • ● to help women acquire new skills to return to the labor market;
  • ● to fight against gender stereotypes in the society and discrimination by employers.

The study used data from two surveys: a three-wave omnibus survey conducted by Info Sapiens by face-to-face research method (each wave included 1,000 respondents) and a survey of 200 unemployed women commissioned by the CES.

The study in Ukrainian can be found here.

The study was conducted within the framework of the Think Tank Development Initiative, which is implemented by the International Renaissance Foundation in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE), with the financial support of the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine. The views and opinions expressed in this publication / infographic / video / are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Swedish Embassy in Ukraine, the International Renaissance Foundation and the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE).

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