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Press release: Speakers at the Equal Pay Day conference called on companies and entrepreneurs to include Ukrainian women in the workforce

Press release

Speakers at the Equal Pay Day conference called on companies and entrepreneurs to include Ukrainian women in the workforce

April 18, 2024, Prague – Experts from the Central European Initiative (CEI) countries, who participated in the Equal Pay Day conference held this year in Prague on 11 and 12 April, issued a call to action for companies and entrepreneurs, as well as the state, to take steps to integrate Ukrainian women and young people into the workforce and thus contribute to their financial independence. The call, which was prepared by the public benefit organization Business & Professional Women CR (BPWCR) in collaboration with CEI’s “Equal Pay Day conference going international III.” project partners sheds light on a pressing issue facing Ukrainian refugee women and their children – their difficult socioeconomic integration into the labor markets of their host countries.

The documentary serves as a critical appeal that raises awareness of the devastating effects of war on these women and an entire generation of young people. It highlights the challenges they face, including the isolation and separation they experience after being suddenly torn from familiar social circles. Many women find it difficult to find work due to language barriers, high levels of non-recognition of their qualifications and the need to care for children and family. Yet many of them have university degrees and specializations and are brimming with talents waiting to be tapped. Striving for fair remuneration based on work done becomes even more crucial in the new environment. 

“Integrating Ukrainian women into our workforce is not only about filling vacancies, but also about embracing diverse perspectives, fostering innovation and driving our society into the global economy,” the appeal says, adding that this integration goes beyond the professional sector. “It is about recognizing and promoting autonomy of those women, offering them the tools for financial independence and acknowledging their role in shaping a dynamic and inclusive society by providing opportunities for training, personal development and advancement development and career progression. We are not only empowering these women, but also laying the foundations for a thriving and sustainable future.”

Unfortunately, the lack of strength of their voice in the economic and social spheres further marginalizes them, driving them into the “shadow economy” and increasing the risks for this vulnerable community. This is particularly the case for adolescent girls. These girls are unable to continue their education or vocational training and forced displacement drives girls to choose between education and immediate income, often making them easy victims of labor exploitation.

And how can companies specifically help? “By removing barriers and creating job opportunities, by offering language training in the workplace, by allowing them to upgrade their qualifications or retrain, which are essential for these women to integrate into the workforce,” explains Ingrid Šůrová, project manager at BPWCR, which offered just such an opportunity in the form of a temporary job to 13 young Ukrainian women and men at the conference. Their work commitment, willingness and teamwork contributed to the success of the event and for that they deserve a big thank you.

The full text of the call, which follows Unicef’s Pathways initiative, can be found here.