Most women do not feel protected by labor laws and face age and maternity discrimination – research


Women often face demanding employee requirements, and age and maternity discrimination during job search. Respondents note lack of jobs, so for them any job is valuable and denial of a job is a threat. About half admit that they agreed to informal employment during the last year. Respondents often mentioned their fear of the employer’s dishonesty; many of them faced such situations. Most do not feel protected by labor laws. These were the results of a research presented by the NGO “Employment Center of free people” at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The research was conducted in Kyiv, Dnipro and Kramatorsk in November 2016 – March 2017 by the initiative of the NGO Foundation in Ukraine supported by the US Agency for International Development. Experts used a focus groups method (12) and a telephone interviews method (600 respondents).

Experts concluded that most of female job seekers’ problems are directly related to the fact that in a difficult economic situation, the employer wants maximum intensity and efficiency of an employee. Therefore, they often impose discriminatory conditions concerning age and motherhood. Respondents faced unreasonable age restrictions pertaining to requirements for jobs and noted that employers often hesitate to hire mothers, on the pretext that that they do not want to work overtime and will “fall out” of work, said Yelyzaveta Kuzmenko, director of the research project. This is the most common narrative in respondents’ answers.

Female IDPs’ problems are even more serious due to prejudices about IDPs in general. Employers fear that IDPs are in depressed psychological condition that adversely affects their efficiency. They are often seen as those who may leave at any time. A lot of women had problems related to the lack of proficiency in Ukrainian. Female IDPs’ noted that their employers are aware of their difficult situation and can dictate terms. According to respondents, the labor market is characterized by widespread corruption and protectionism, especially in the public sector. But only a small number of respondents faced this personally. Respondents evaluated Employment Center’s performance as unsatisfactory. They noted that it is a very bureaucratic structure with tedious procedures, and performs the function of social security rather than employment. However, some mention the benefits of retraining courses. A major part of respondents said they feel uncertainty and fear during the job search. “More than half of respondents from Dnipro and Kyiv said that with their experience in searching job over the past year, they feel the need to improve their skills in preparing resumés, self-presentations and job interviews,” informed Yelyzaveta Kuzmenko. Some of them feel the need to gain new knowledge and skills or even to train for a new occupation to meet the labor market requirements. These are mostly women of above forty years.

Respondents admit that they feel unprotected by labor laws, and would like to increase their legal literacy in this area.


According to the experts, it is necessary to work both with employers and women to improve the situation. “We need to restore the tripartite agreements between the state apparatus, employers, and employees. Only when the dialogue is established in this alliance, the situation will change for the better,” believes Zhanna Lukianenko, Representative of the Commissioner for observance of the rights of internally displaced persons in the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. Besides, we should improve the effectiveness of employment services, referring to the positive experience of public projects of employment and job creation. At the same time these projects should use the employment service capacity.

According to Maryna Lebid, head of the NGO “Employment Center of free people”, employers should explain the benefits of partnership and not hierarchical relations with employees, and provide them with tools for practical solutions. “For example, when an employer knows that there is a database of candidates who can work part-time, and can quickly find employees. It is also necessary to show experience of other companies that are flexible, thus getting advantages. Friendly atmosphere in the team has a great influence on performance. This is a very important factor, but employers do not always consider it,” she noted.

Women should be offered courses where they will be taught to plan their careers and present themselves. They also should be offered training for jobs that are in demand and do not require a full-time contract, e.g. IT, copywriting, digital, etc. Given that the state language is Ukrainian and documentation is kept in Ukrainian, it would be appropriate to launch Ukrainian courses for those who wish to improve their knowledge. Besides, there should be legal literacy courses and support for those who need to defend their rights. “It would be appropriate to create the mutual support groups so that women should gather and share their successes and problems to solve them,” noted Maryna Lebid. “Public organizations involved in the protection of women’s rights could create such platforms. They should be intended not only for discussion but also for combination of services – when a mother can sit with 5-6 children,” added Natalia Tserklevych, program coordinator of the NGO Forum in Ukraine.