Priority gender issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine


What does the literature indicate as priority gender issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH); Georgia; Moldova; Serbia; and Ukraine? Note links concerning gender and governance topics and any existing programmes in this regard.


Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

Despite some progress being made towards achieving gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), gender stereotyping and discrimination against women remain widespread. Key findings include:

  • Awareness and implementation of the Law on Gender Equality (LGE) is weak.
  • Gender stereotypes are prevalent in the media.
  • Few women serve as political representatives.
  • Addressing gender gaps in women’s access to economic opportunities is a priority. Women have low participation in the labour market and a wide gender gap exists in employment.
  • Sexual violence, and domestic violence in particular, is recognised as rampant. A main cause of this is patriarchal sociocultural attitudes.


The gender context in Georgia reflects deep-rooted biases concerning gender roles and equality. Gender stereotyping and discrimination continue, largely due to traditional cultural values, the legacy of Soviet policy on gender equality, and social and economic uncertainties caused by the transitional country context. Key findings include:

  • The pivotal Law on Gender Equality (2010), the Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (2014), along with a range of additional policies, strategies and national action plans set a legal basis supportive to gender equality and anti-discrimination. However, weaknesses in implementation prevail.
  • Sexualisation of women in the media is reported as prevalent and even increasing.
  • Success cases in gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) are providing the evidence to build government buy-in and to promote and inform civil society engagement.
  • Women’s participation in governance is low – the main reasons for this include lack of financing, traditional societal attitudes, little experience in public life roles and low interest.
  • Limited access to finance, an absence of a “culture” of entrepreneurship, patriarchal attitudes and social customs that underpin traditional gender roles limit women’s economic opportunities.
  • Sexual violence, domestic violence, and trafficking are priority challenges.


Recent policy and legal reforms that ensure equal rights and opportunities to women and men, and protection of women and girls against violence, provide a favourable environment supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment. But implementation of laws and policies across social, economic and political sectors is lagging. Key findings include:

  • Women’s political representation is low in Moldova.
  • Women face specific challenges linked to education, skills and labour barriers, and patriarchal views of gender roles.
  • Expectations about women being the primary care-giver and assuming household responsibilities and men being the primary bread-winners are entrenched, and reinforced through education, media and advertising.
  • Domestic violence is a serious problem.


The introduction of quotas for women’s political participation has been successful in Serbia, although the gender pay gap is still significant, and equal access to the labour market needs to be improved. Key findings include:

  • Administrative and legal capacity on gender equality issues remains weak.
  • Stereotypes are prevalent in the media, and communications reinforce traditional roles and fail to address gender equality.
  • Policing and security are male dominated.
  • Women’s political participation is above average as a result of a quota system. However, women are still underrepresented in powerful positions.
  • Gender gaps in women’s employment, pay, and access to economic opportunities are above average. Challenges include gender stereotypes, childcare and family obligations, access to finance, and gender discrimination.
  • While in general, access to education is similar for boys and girls, Roma and disabled girls are less likely to be in education. Female students are concentrated in the areas of social sciences, humanities and arts.
  • There are high levels of sexual and gender based violence, although many victims are reluctant to report it.


Ukraine is above average when it comes to women in education, healthcare, and the labour market, but lagging far behind in women’s political representation. Key findings include:

  • There are problems with implementation of the law and there is a lack of political will to advance gender equality. The national gender mechanisms were weakened by reforms in 2010.
  • The stereotypes prevalent in the media are a major challenge to achieving gender equality.
  • Women have lower participation in the labour market and a gender pay gap exists. Challenges include access to finance, childcare and family responsibilities, poor infrastructure and lack of childcare, gender discrimination, lack of access to business and trade networks, lack of knowledge and training, the inadequate enabling environment for business development, and corruption.
  • While in general, access to education is similar for boys and girls, Roma girls are less likely to be in education.
  • Every third household with children is living below the poverty line, and single mothers with young children, unemployed women, women in rural areas, and women over 75 experience higher levels of poverty.
  • There are high levels of sexual and gender based violence, although many victims are reluctant to report it. The effects of the conflict in eastern Ukraine increase the risk of violence. Support exists but could be improved.



Suggested citation

Pozarny, P., & Rohwerder, B. (2016). Priority gender issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine – with consideration to gender and governance. Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.