Ukraine - Social development

The social security system provides all employees with old age, disability, and survivor's pensions. A 1% contribution by employees supplements a 37% contribution from employers. Retirement is normally at age 60 for men and 55 for women, although this is reduced by five years for those engaged in arduous work and mothers with five or more children. There is a dual system of medical benefits. Cash benefits for sickness are provided for employed persons, while a universal medical care system exists for all residents. Maternity benefits of 100% of wages for 70 days before and 56 days after the expected date of childbirth are payable to all employed women. Family allowances are provided to families with large numbers of children. Special provisions exist for Chernobyl victims. Workers' compensation and unemployment benefits are also provided.

The law provides women with the same employment rights as men, although they rarely attain high-level managerial or political positions. Women have been disproportionately affected by the country's economic crisis. Estimates suggest that they may account for as many as 70% of the unemployed. Women who are employed mostly work in low-paying jobs or in industries that have trouble paying their employees on time. Women generally have high levels of education and are fairly well represented in politics, although they have a greater presence in local government positions. Violence against women, domestic abuse, and sexual harassment in the workplace are pervasive.

Harassment of racial minorities and religious intolerance are increasing problems. Anti-Semitic incidents and societal discrimination of ethnic minorities are commonplace. The Roma population is subject to abuse by police and general intolerance by the public. Human rights violations continue despite a decline in some areas over recent years. Prisoners are mistreated by authorities and live in substandard conditions. The government interferes with freedom of the press and with the electoral process.

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