Ukraine: UN review must be seized as a unique opportunity to tackle long-unaddressed discrimination against women

Press release

Geneva, 17 November 2017: Ukraine must seize the opportunity of a UN-backed review process to unequivocally commit to putting a decisive end to gender discrimination in the employment field by abrogating the list of banned professions for women, FIDH, its member organisation ADC “Memorial” and the Centre for Social and Gender Research “New Life” from Ukraine said today.

Ukraine’s third UPR was held on 15 November in Geneva, Switzerland. Gender-based discriminations and violence against women were at the heart of the recommendations of diplomatic delegations to the government of Ukraine, from the large call to ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence to concerns about the prohibition for women to exercise certain professional occupations. Earlier this year, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women explicitly called on Ukraine to review the list of prohibited jobs for women and facilitate women’s access to previously prohibited occupations. [1]

“In today’s Ukraine, more than 450 jobs are still banned for women. It is about time Ukraine revised the obsolete provisions of its Labour Code and moved forward with implementing the necessary legislative and institutional reforms that would make it a rights respecting country,” said Yevheniia Lutsenko from the Centre for Social and Gender Research “New Life” (Ukraine).

Ukraine’s list of professional occupations banned for women comes from the Soviet times, and is justified as a “concern for women’s reproductive health”. [2] Women of all ages and irrespective of their wish or ability to bear children are prohibited from working underground, driving trucks and trains, with no legally enforceable medical prove that working in these conditions damages female reproduction. No prohibitions exist for men to protect their reproductive health. Moreover, a number of restrictions can hardly be explained by an intention to protect women’s health. For instance, women are prohibited from driving intercity buses carrying over 14 passengers.

“The government must end discrimination against women in Ukraine and ensure real access for all women to all jobs” said Head of ADC “Memorial” Stephania Kulaeva who is running the campaign #alljobsforallwomen.

FIDH, its member organisation ADC “Memorial” and the Center for Social and Gender Research “New Life” (Ukraine) reiterate their call for the Ukrainian government to revise the Labour Code and abrogate the list of forbidden for women professions in compliance with its Constitution and obligations under core international human rights instruments. The UPR process is an opportunity for Ukraine to demonstrate its commitment and political will to take concrete steps to irrevocably end discrimination.

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