Final event of the joint ILO-UNDP initiative “Economic Empowerment of Women as a response to the COVID-19 crisis in Ukraine”

November 24, 2021

Welcoming remarks by Dafina Gercheva, UNDP Resident Representative to Ukraine,

24 November 2021

Excellencies, distinguished participants, dear colleagues,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the final event of the joint initiative “Economic Empowerment of Women as a response to the COVID-19 crisis in Ukraine”.

The United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organization launched this project in April 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is global, deadly, and multifaceted emergency that is hitting hard on the fundamentals of human development: health, education, and income.

The project is aiming at promoting and supporting women’s economic empowerment through improving the relevant institutional frameworks, expanding economic opportunities, and enhancing livelihoods.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges faced by women-entrepreneurs. According to the results of the UN COVID-19 impact assessment, led by UNDP in partnership with UN Women and FAO, the pandemic affected women-owned businesses much more than companies owned by men.

Women respondents were more likely to indicate significant challenges faced by their businesses as a result of the pandemic. Women-owned enterprises had to lay off more employees, and had a lower annual financial turnover compared to men-owned companies.

Our pilot initiative is aiming at rapidly addressing these challenges. It is underpinned by the Global Framework for Action, established by the International Labour Organization and the United Nations Development Programme, which provides strategic direction for tackling unprecedented challenges stemming from the pandemic.

UNDP and ILO also drew on the longstanding and rich experience in confronting development and labour issues through the lens of human rights, gender equality and environmental sustainability.

Under the framework of this initiative, we developed a tailor-made training programme for local public authorities entitled “Leadership in Economic development”, which has a specific focus on economic empowerment of women.  As of today, more than 200 public officials (mostly women) have been trained and empowered to implement local programmes, which are supporting women’s economic empowerment. Two regional training centres in Rivne and Sumy have already adopted the program and we expect much more to follow their lead.  The programme has already been endorsed by the National Civil Service Agency of Ukraine.

More than 100 women entrepreneurs in the targeted oblasts received training and advanced their business skills, and more than 60 were provided with in-depth training on e-commerce and consultancy support, which will help them seize the benefits of digitalization and online trade, making their businesses more successful and resilient.

I am confident that the results achieved by the project will further strengthen the strategic partnerships with the state and non-state actors, promote equal economic opportunities and support women’s economic empowerment and resilience, as we build forward from the pandemic better and greener.  

In closing, I would like to extend our sincere thanks to ILO for the excellent collaboration.  Our joint-up efforts have contributed to the achievement of numerous tangible and transformative results on the ground. I believe that this pilot initiative will pave the way to further expanding our partnership and delivering more development dividends to the people of Ukraine.

I would also like to thank our partners at the national and local level, who have been supporting us throughout the implementation of this project, and who will take over responsibility for ensuring the sustainability and replicability of the initiative.

Among them are Rivne and Sumy oblast state administrations, territorial communities of Rivne, Hoshcha, Trostianets and Konotop, State Employment Service of Ukraine, regional centres for advanced training in Rivne and Sumy oblasts, Federation of Employers of Ukraine, and Women’s Business League.

I would like to take this opportunity and assure you of UNDP’s firm commitment to further promote and strengthen gender equality and the economic empowerment of women, which is a powerful accelerator for the achievement of the SDGs and for the advancement of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Thank you.