The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) have released a report that examines the effects of economic transitions from state socialism to free markets on women in 18 Eastern European countries.
According to the report, titled “The Story Behind the Numbers: Women and Employment in Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Commonwealth of Independent States,” Eastern European women have suffered because of the collapse of state socialism, with high rates of long-term unemployment. Those that find work frequently fill underpaid, governmental positions. Though women are statistically better educated than their male counterparts, they are paid less. Men too, though, have been negatively affected and also have high rates of unemployment and poverty.
However, the report notes that while both men and women face difficulties in the labor market, women are disproportionately negatively affected by their role as caregivers. A UNIFEM press release points out that, “State policies no longer try to assist women to balance work and family. Instead, they have reinforced the tradition of women’s sole responsibility for reproductive work and have cut (or allowed for the devaluation of state subsidies for child-care institutions, maternity leave, and parental sick leave.”