Calling it a day for sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination in Ukraine

December 01, 2023

“She probably asked for it”. How many times we have heard this sentence, regardless of the language it was expressed in, when it comes to sexual harassment at the workplace? And make no mistake, sexual harassment affects men, too, at the workplace, as elsewhere.

In Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA) issued guidelines on combating gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace in July 2023. The guidelines concern the ministry itself, but also the National Police of Ukraine, the State Border Guard Service, the National Guard of Ukraine, the State Emergency Service as well as the State Migration Service.

This was based on the acknowledgement and understanding that discrimination and sexual harassment may have serious consequences for individuals directly affected by it and for the working environment.

The management at the workplace plays a key role in creating a working environment that is safe for everybody, and there is no room for discrimination or harassment.

To support the implementation of the mentioned guidelines, the Ukrainian MoIA requested EUAM Ukraine to develop a comprehensive training programme on combating discrimination and harassment in the ministry and law enforcement agencies. The training programme is implemented in close cooperation with UN Women and the Ukrainian Women Lawyers Association “JurFem”.

“We have chosen senior and middle management as our main target group because they are responsible for creating a working environment free of discrimination and harassment”, says Anne Maki-Rahkola, Gender Adviser in EUAM Ukraine. “In the training programme, we use practical examples and scenarios to connect the participants with their daily reality.”

The series of trainings started on 14 November with online trainings for senior management of the MoIA and law enforcement agencies. Middle management of the same organisations participated in classroom trainings from 20 to 28 November in Kyiv.

The goal of the programme is to train more than 700 representatives in Kyiv and in three regions, Lviv, Odesa and Dnipro, by the end of March 2024.

“This training programme is really what was needed, since so far, we have had trainings on issues such as domestic violence, but not on gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace. It is a sensitive issue”, says Olga, a 36-year-old training participant. “It is crucial that the staff are aware of policies, and that certain attitudes are not tolerable”, adds Olga. As Anne Maki-Rahkola further stated, there is a “clear connection between gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment and violence”.

Every year, EUAM Ukraine participates in the 16 Days Campaign against Gender-Based Violence, which started on 25 November.

The trainings on gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment are part of EUAM Ukraine’s campaign activities.

The battle against gender-based violence is fought at the workplace, as everywhere else.