Unions vow to fight gender-based violence and pay gap

BWI affiliates in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Russia led the 16 Days of Trade Union Activism on Violence against Women in Eastern Europe and Central Asia amidst increasing gender-based violence and gender pay gap in the region.

The unions took turns in leading the region’s gender equality campaign on social media. They shared information on the region’s growing gender pay gap and held discussions on how to strengthen trade union strategies to address gender issues at homes and workplaces. 

BWI affiliates based in the said four countries observed an alarming rise in the cases of violence against women. In Lviv Oblast (a big region in the west of Ukraine) alone, cases of domestic rose by 150 percent from 5,057 in 2019 to 13,640 in 2020.  In Moldova, 1 out of 5 women workers experience harassment at work, but only 15 percent of them report to state authorities. 

The region’s gender pay gap is also a major concern. In Moldova, the gap is 14.4 percent while in Ukraine it is 26 percent. Meanwhile, in Russia and Azerbaijan, the average wage of a woman worker is 53.8 percent lower than the average salary of a male worker.

This is reflected in the Global Gender Equality Index. Russia’s gender equality rank (out of 153 countries) dropped rapidly: from 49 in 2006, it went down to 75 in 2016 and 81 in 2020.

“The campaign opened my eyes. I realized how challenging situation is in the region, particularly in Ukraine. It became clear to me the need to act together and build a strong network of women trade union activists,” – said Lesia Husak of PROFBUD.

Husak said that their union’s gender equality campaign on social media campaign was able to reach out to 3000 people and elicit more than a thousand responses. “We are happy with the number of people who followed and shared our posts. It shows that gender equality is an important issue to many people, especially women,” Husak said.