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Increased gender inequality and willingness to work in de-occupied communities

Publication date: May 27, 2024

First findings of the sociological survey in the communities of the South

Author: Yuliia Bilyk, communications manager of the Legal Development Network

Are specialized professionals and relocated residents ready to return and participate in community reconstruction? What are the needs of local businesses and what do they think would help solve some of their problems? What areas do residents of de-conflicted communities in southern Ukraine consider to be a priority for development? These and many other questions can be answered in a sociological survey conducted by the Legal Development Network (hereinafter – LDN, the Network) in January-March 2024. 

We learned about its peculiarities and trends that are worth paying attention to now from the experts involved — Vitalii Okhrimenko, Director of Strategic Development at the LDN, and Maryna Shpiker, a sociologist.

Director of Strategic Development Vitalii Okhrimenko. Photo by the Legal Development Network

“In 2023, one of the components of the Legal Development Network’s work in Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts was to strengthen the capacity of de-occupied communities to manage their humanitarian needs. We started helping them create strategic development and recovery plans. In total, about 300 representatives of local governments, executive authorities, business and civil society sectors were involved in this process. The next step is to conduct a sociological survey to check whether the strategic plans are understandable to a wide range of people — the majority of community residents – whether the plans address the topics of priority for people, and whether different groups of people are ready to directly engage in recovery and development activities. The results of this survey will be used to adjust certain actions to implement the strategic plans. In particular, they will be taken into account by other de-occupied communities, as we interviewed not only residents of Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts, but also Odesa oblast,” Vitalii Okhrimenko said. 

How the data was collected

Based on the results of the strategic planning, seven target groups were identified for data collection. The first three are residents of three communities: Mishkovo-Pohorilivska and Shevchenkivska communities in Mykolaiv Oblast and Bilozerska community in Kherson Oblast.

  • Two more groups are internally displaced residents of Bilozerska and Shevchenkivska communities.
  • The next two groups are representatives of certain professional groups from Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts and business representatives from Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts.

Residents of the communities were interviewed using the CAPI method — face-to-face. The researchers communicated with other target audiences by phone.

CAPI is an individual face-to-face interview that takes place on stationary and portable devices using a centralized computer system. The system monitors the course of the interview, and respondents’ answers are immediately recorded in a single database, which optimizes time and ensures control over the research process.

Data collection quality control included listening to 10% of randomly selected interview recordings during the survey. Data quality control procedures were conducted in parallel with fieldwork.

Professionals are ready to work in de-occupied communities

The total number of respondents to the survey was 1280 people. The lion’s share of respondents are representatives of different professional groups — 500 people. The occupational groups were selected in accordance with the labor needs of the de-occupied communities of Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts that are participants in the project. Among other things, the survey includes such professions as lawyers, economists, accountants, teachers, specialists in the agricultural and food industries, builders, engineers, etc.

According to the survey, up to 61% of the target group representatives may be potentially interested in employment offers, starting or expanding their own business. More than a third of the target group expressed their readiness to work in the de-occupied communities of the South (provided competitive salaries, official housing in case of relocation, opportunities to realize their own ideas or start a business on preferential terms). This can be not only a job with residence in the community, but also remote employment, work with periodic visits, or business expansion to de-occupied communities.

Sociologist Maryna Shpiker. Photo from Marina Shpiker’s Facebook page

“I was somewhat surprised by the rather high rates of readiness to work in the de-occupied communities in one form or another. I thought that people would be less interested. But they say that yes, we can work remotely, and some are even ready to travel to the de-occupied communities or even move to live there if the conditions are good,” sociologist Maryna Shpiker comments on the findings of the study.

Salary expectations in communities

In terms of an acceptable level of monthly income, half of the target group would be satisfied with an amount of up to UAH 25,000. 18% of respondents indicated that they would be satisfied with up to UAH 15,000 inclusive. Another 28% mentioned an income in the range of 15000 to 25000 UAH, 17% — 25000-35000 UAH, 13% — 35000-50000 UAH, the same number – more than 50,000 UAH.

Higher financial expectations are observed among entrepreneurs, doctors, construction workers, and technical specialists in housing and utilities. Also, people with complete and incomplete higher education and residents of large cities, such as: Odesa and Mykolaiv.

Women accept significantly lower income than men

Of particular note is the fact that women, on average, tend to accept a much lower monthly income than men. While men’s salary expectations in the communities of the southern regions range from 20,000 to 50,000 UAH, women’s expectations are limited to 15,000 to 30,000 UAH.

“Women now, in times of war, bear the brunt of running a household and providing for their families. In particular, in the communities of the South, Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts, many men serve in the Armed Forces, while the rest often avoid official employment or are not involved in construction and other work due to mass mobilization. The huge gap between women’s and men’s salary expectations shows that women, doing the same work as men, accept very unfavorable working conditions. Accordingly, this indicates that the factor of gender inequality has increased during the war,” Vitalii Okhrimenko shares his impressions.

Young people want to earn more

The answers to the question about salary expectations revealed not only inequality related to the gender of the respondents, but also to their age. The trend is that the older the respondents are, the lower their financial expectations are. The lowest salaries are satisfied with 50-59-year-olds. This is especially noticeable compared to 18-39-year-olds.

“Given that a significant number of young people have left the formerly occupied territories and are in no hurry to return to the de-occupied ones, and middle-aged and older people are expecting or being offered lower salaries, the economic situation is difficult and cannot move forward under these conditions,” Vitalii Okhrimenko said.

According to him, communities in the southern regions need to change their approaches to labor organization and entrepreneurship. First of all, it is about attracting investment, creating jobs with decent pay for women and people over 50 as the most represented category in the labor market. This should take into account such features as competencies, age, health, motivation, etc.

Residents of communities are ready to join the recovery effort

“In conclusion, in addition to hiring qualified professionals, communities affected by the Russian invasion need people who are willing to join the reconstruction process as volunteers. Our survey is encouraging and shows a high level of encouragement from the target group,” said Maryna Shpiker. Thus, more than 80% of respondents expressed a desire to join the recovery process: 42% answered in the affirmative, 40% — rather affirmatively.

The first conclusions of the study of the socio-economic status of the de-occupied communities show that the impact of the war is noticeable in various spheres of life in the South: from the demographic situation to the reformatting of economic sectors. At the same time, given a rational, balanced approach to recovery and further development, communities have enormous potential for the future. We will share detailed findings of the study by target communities and groups in the following materials.

For humanitarian aid providers in Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts, the database can be accessed at link.ldn.org.ua. Contacts for communication

Link platform

e-mail: link@ldn.org.ua

tel.: 0 800 33 111 3 (free of charge within Ukraine)

Created with the financial support of the international charity platform Global Giving.

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