Sweden is by far the largest donor to gender equality initiatives in Ukraine where change is underway, slowly but surely.

Ukraine has not ratified the Istanbul Convention but legislative proposals in the spirit of the Convention were recently presented to the parliament. These legislative proposals make clear that domestic violence is a criminal act.

The new laws would lead to new tools for several of the actors in the judicial system (specialised judges would be appointed and trained, the police would be able to take action without the suspected perpetrator being able to claim that domestic violence is ‘a private matter’, as is the case today).

The laws would also entail new routines for health care if a doctor suspects violence in a close relationship. The scale of penalties for violence in close relationships would also be affected. Several measures, such as the large-scale establishment of shelters for women, can find a basis in these laws, in addition to training for actors in the judicial system. Through its many years of support to both civil society and ministries, Sweden has helped make these judicial tools available.

The changes are expected to come about through increased local ownership and greater focus on conflict-related gender-based violence. At government level, gender equality efforts were recently enhanced by Vice Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze who now has the coordination responsibility for the issue.

Sweden is by far the largest donor to gender equality initiatives in Ukraine. For example, the Embassy provides major funding to UN Women for a project with a broad approach to support the government. UN Women is also helping to revise the Ukrainian national action plan for women, peace and security. Measures will be proposed targeting gender-related violence. Ukraine’s government has recently also assumed responsibility for coordinating international support for gender equality efforts. On 23 November, a hearing was held at which the candidates for the newly-established position as commissioner for gender equality issues were questioned. One participant on the interview panel called establishing this position an ‘historic’ moment.

Regardless of what impact it may have in history books, the work is moving forward – slowly but surely.