Olena Zelenska at the UN General Assembly: Solidarity remains the only means against barbarism and aggression
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska have started their visit to the United States to participate in the events of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York from September 17 to 21. The 78th session of the UN General Assembly officially opened on September 5.
On the first day of the visit, Olena Zelenska participated in a high-level event on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, "International Equal Pay Day 2023: Advocating for Equal Pay - Celebrating Achievements and Understanding Challenges," where she discussed the situation of pay equity for Ukrainian women.
"With the onset of Russian aggression, our women felt all the risks and challenges, assuming the burden in all spheres. And it's not just displaced women who are evacuating children and elderly relatives to safe places. It's doctors because most of them are women. Teachers who continue to educate children, mainly women. We have a very powerful volunteer movement, and most of its activists are also women. Military service, although voluntary for women, now has more and more women – 60,000. At the same time, women have become more vulnerable, losing their jobs and businesses. Most of our small businesses were run by women, and they suffered first. Often, their shops, salons, and firms burned down along with the cities where they were located," said the President's wife.
She emphasized that these trials are compounded by the gender pay gap – women in the same positions earn less than men. This trend, common worldwide, is also a problem in Ukraine.
"To combat this phenomenon, we joined the Biarritz Partnership for Equality. If in 2015, the pay gap between men and women was 26%, in 2021, we reduced it to 18%," noted the First Lady.
She emphasized that the fight for equal pay continues even during wartime.
The President's wife discussed the importance of addressing this issue with the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and heard commitments to overcome the gender pay gap by 2030 during a panel discussion from Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, Gilbert Houngbo, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD.
"The state has made a fundamental decision – to develop and improve even during wartime. Despite the war. Last Friday, the Ukrainian government approved the National Strategy for Closing the Gender Pay Gap in Ukraine by 2030. Is it ambitious for a country at war? Yes, it is. We want to turn our traumas into growth. During the war, the state continues to work towards equality. But the most crucial component is victory. We need victory so that our women can return from emigration, work, and earn decent wages in their homeland, so that new businesses can open. Justice and confidence for Ukrainian women are not only a legal but also a moral obligation of the state," emphasized Olena Zelenska.
As the First Lady explained, the Ukrainian delegation has planned many important meetings. Specifically, Olena Zelenska will meet with WHO leadership, participate in the event "Fighting for the Future: Ukrainian Children in War," and attend a UNESCO event titled "Building Peace and Resilience Through Culture: The Intersection of Culture, Crises, and Sustainable Development," dedicated to preserving Ukrainian cultural heritage.