OUR FOCUS

Gender equality

In depth

Today, some of the most serious inequalities in East Europe and Central Asia are gender-based. Women face huge obstacles as they try to achieve the same rights and opportunities as men. Gender inequalities are endangering the region’s overall development.

Women’s low participation in the labour market is perpetuated by discriminatory laws and practices and persisting gender stereotypes. Even when their educational achievements and qualifications equal or surpass those of men, women are less likely to be promoted to top management positions and prestigious leadership roles. Many are employed in low-paying sectors of the economy, partially due to stereotypes about what women and men can do. In some countries, these are embedded in law. Women are also more likely to be found in informal and precarious work, without contract or regular pay, or in part-time jobs due to their disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work.

In parliaments, women’s participation remains below 40 percent in most countries and territories in Europe and Central Asia. Despite the introduction of quotas and other measures aimed at increasing the numbers of women in elected bodies, there has not been a significant redistribution of power between women and men. Women still lack access to key decision-making bodies, core ministries and the top ranks of political parties.

Recent years have also exposed the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters caused or exacerbated by climate change. Due to reduced access to information, resources and decision-making, women and girls are at greater risk during disasters and face more difficulties in recovering from them.

A remote village in Kyrgyzstan was hooked up to satellite phone with UNDP's support.

Sexual and gender-based violence, harassment and discrimination affect women and girls everywhere, fueled by harmful patriarchal structures and traditions. Efforts to curb violence through legislation are slowed or delayed where policies don’t translate into action.

Gender inequalities intersect with many other forms of discrimination – based on age, class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, occupation and income – resulting in several layers of exclusion and vulnerability. To build inclusive communities and societies, these deprivations must be exposed and addressed.  

What we do

UNDP works with partners in Europe and Central Asia to:

  • Integrate gender equality concerns in all areas of work;

  • Promote accountability of national institutions to gender equality in all spheres;

  • Advocate for national budgets that take into account the priorities and needs of both women and men;

  • Ensure gender-responsive data collection in national statistics;

  • Deliver opportunities and improve skills for women’s economic empowerment, especially in the future world of work;

  • Promote women’s decision-making in the public and private sectors;

  • Ensure that climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and programmes respond to the specific experiences and needs of women and men;

  • Address and prevent violence and all forms of discrimination against women and girls;

  • Design interventions tailored to the specific needs of women and men from disadvantaged minority groups.

  • Support UNDP Country Offices and interested partners to attain the Gender Equality Seal, a UNDP institutional certification programme that promotes gender equality both as a development goal and an integral part of organizational functioning.

What we have accomplished

  • In North Macedonia, we developed gender-responsive policies as part of the law and strategy on climate action and climate change;

  • In Turkey, we are improving the quality of elder care services by empowering family caregivers through the provision of caring skills and well-being support;

  • In Armenia, we mobilized women to get involved in local politics and offered support before and after they were elected;

  • In Azerbaijan, our Women Resource Centres support women to become entrepreneurs and  overcome socio-economic challenges;

  • In Kyrgyzstan, we supported women activists and worked in cooperation with the Parliament and the Central Election Committee to increase the number of women deputies in village councils to around 40 percent in 2021;

  • In Moldova, we promoted environment-friendly and climate resilience practices targeting women headed households, women agri-producers and communities. 

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