In the Europe and Central Asia region, significant gender inequalities remain, particularly when it comes to decent work and income, political participation, access to resources and services, and the distribution of unpaid domestic and care work. Women also experience widespread violence and discrimination. At the same time, gender stereotypes are pervasive, limiting the potential of women and men and impeding women’s access to opportunities.
UNDP incorporates principles of gender equality and women’s empowerment in all its work. We champion inclusive economic development that benefits women and men equally. We work with governments, parliaments and women’s organizations to advance women’s participation in politics, governance and the economy. We build the skills and knowledge of women and men to increase resilience to the impacts of climate change.
We also work with governments, civil society, the private sector and other UN agencies and international organizations to advocate for women’s equal rights, combat discriminatory legislation and practices, challenge gender roles and stereotypes and put an end to violence against women and girls.
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.
Such gender gaps in labour are particularly prevalent in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries. STEM industries are marked as the jobs and skills of the future but are currently men-dominated. More information on this can be found on the joint UNDP and UNICEF STEM4ALL platform.
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. The UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub Equal Future platform explores this in more detail.
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.
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 through the STEM4ALL regional platform;
- Promote women’s decision-making in the public and private sectors, including through the Equal Future regional platform;
- 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 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 Kazakhstan, UNDP supports initiatives targeting women’s empowerment in renewable energy through skill building and creating dialogue platforms;
- In the Kyrgyz Republic, UNDP supports the country’s largest annual gathering, “Women’s Kurultai”, which contributes to reinforcing cooperation among women across the country and the greater recognition of women’s voices. This platform also opens opportunities for new young women leaders to speak out for a more gender-equal state and accommodate their solidarity towards leadership at every decision-making level;
- In Moldova, UNDP has responded to growing gender-based violence by creating Safe Space, an application that provides psychological and legal assistance services to survivors and impacted community members, and empowering local authorities to address and prevent gender-based violence;
- In Türkiye, UNDP is improving social service facilities for women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities; training municipality personnel to increase capacity support; and supporting women entrepreneurs with a small grants programme throughout the earthquake-affected municipalities.