Defending dignity and ensuring the right to a dignified life for everyone were among the key demands of the Revolution of Dignity which took place in Ukraine in 2013–2014. When this social movement won, the country accelerated its reforms and European integration, while Russia launched a war against Ukraine in an attempt to interfere with these processes.

In order to coordinate international support for the reforms, the Ukrainian Government and its partners began to hold annual Ukraine Reform Conferences in 2017. After the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion in 2022, these events continued to be held annually under a new title, as Ukraine Recovery Conferences. The large-scale destruction and the negative impact of the war added issues of rebuilding physical infrastructure destroyed by the hostilities to the agenda of public policy reforms.

During the first recovery conference in Switzerland on 4–5 July 2022, the participating countries adopted an outcome document titled the Lugano Declaration. It defined the seven guiding principles of the process of Ukraine’s recovery. One of these principles is gender equality and inclusion. The detailed formulation of this principle is as follows:

The recovery process has to be inclusive and ensure gender equality and respect for human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. Recovery needs to benefit all, and no part of society should be left behind. Disparities need to be reduced.

Ukrainian government instructions define gender-sensitive approach as “taking into account specific social, cultural, economic, political, and other characteristics of the conditions of life and the needs of women and men.” We base our analysis on the premise that a gender-sensitive approach involves taking into account the needs and interests of all social groups, not only those that have the best access to power and resources. Men with above-average income have historically been the most privileged group in society which was the most involved in decision making. In view of this, the personal life experience of members of this group in particular has been affecting decisions the most and has been perceived as the default option, an example of an ordinary person.

Gender-sensitive approach is about identifying and taking into account varying experiences of diverse social groups, which can differ. This is not just about social groups that differ by gender, but also by age, financial situation, background, sexual orientation, health condition, disability and other characteristics, as well as a combination of these. Depending on the characteristic, each individual may belong to categories whose experiences were taken into account more often as well as to the categories which have traditionally been overlooked. Moreover, throughout one’s life, depending on various, sometimes unpredictable events, each individual can change their social status. Consideration of various combinations of privilege and discrimination which are produced by intersections of multiple group and individual identities is the basis of intersectionality, which is part of the gender-sensitive approach.

Teenage boys from low-income households; single mothers whose partners have been killed at war; homosexual men over 60; women with disabilities living in rural areas — different problems and public policy issues can be relevant for each of these (and other) social groups. Due to existing limitations, not all of them can be solved at once; moreover, sometimes the interests of different social groups can contradict one another. The gender-sensitive approach involves paying special attention and prioritizing the needs of less privileged social groups who have historically received less consideration in decision making.

Applying the gender-sensitive approach in the recovery process can bring gender equality and inclusion closer in Ukrainian society, particularly at the local level. Taking into account the needs of diverse social groups is an important step required for the practical implementation of the “no-one left behind” principle and the achievement of social justice.

Full recovery and rebuilding of Ukraine is not possible without victory in the war and the establishment of sustainable and fair peace. Nevertheless, the recovery process has already begun and is underway. Roofs and windows are repaired in damaged buildings, evacuated universities continue their studies, internally displaced people find housing and jobs, new institutions and businesses open, the country continues to work. However, in addition to direct harm and damages, the war has also exacerbated the challenges which the government and hromadas faced even before the war, particularly understaffing and underfunding, the difficulty of prioritizing sustainable and systematic solutions before cheap and quick fixes, distrust and insufficient capacity. In view of this, we assume that recovery is a lengthy and complex process which is inextricably linked to the country’s general development, reforms, and European integration. It requires not only compensation or rebuilding of whatever has been destroyed or lost, but also a systemic update, adaptation of the country to the new conditions, opportunities, and challenges.

This document has been prepared for the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2024 in Berlin in order to suggest recommendations regarding the implementation of the principle of gender equality and inclusion in the recovery and development processes at the local level. It considers both public policies and specific practical solutions in six fields: governance, budgeting, security, social protection, mobility, and leisure. These fields have been selected due to the fact that governance and budgeting are key for the implementation of any public policy, security and social protection have become especially relevant as a result of the war, and mobility and leisure are the basis of the local government’s field of responsibility. In addition, the contexts and solutions for these fields are sometimes so interrelated that boundaries between them are rather blurred.

While preparing this document, we have analyzed the existing literature and previous development and conducted 10 expert interviews with professionals working in the 6 fields in question at the national and local levels. For each field, we offer an overview of context with examples, recommendations on practical solutions in the short- and long-term perspective, as well as links to further reading materials. The suggested recommendations will be of use to the hromadas that have been affected by the war to different degrees: both those that need to fully rebuild their infrastructure and restore their government bodies and those where the main challenge is to adapt to new conditions. In each of these cases, gender sensitivity can and should be taken into account during the processes of recovery and development in order to ensure their inclusivity and fairness.


The implementation of the gender equality and inclusion principle in recovery and development at the local level involves the identification and consideration of the needs and experiences of different social groups. The result is often the creation of public policies which benefit not only the least privileged, but also all the other people in society.

The essential components of implementing the gender-sensitive approach include research and evidence-based decisions, participatory practices and public participation in decision making, and multilevel governance. Research, analysis of needs and data collection are necessary for making justified decisions based on evidence and on critical analysis of previous experiences and potential consequences of the projects and programs that are being implemented. Access to information, participatory practices and decision making that involves stakeholders are necessary for giving different social groups an opportunity to defend their interests. Multilevel governance is necessary to coordinate the efforts of national, regional, and local government bodies, whose participation is important for implementing systemic social change.

One of the cross-cutting issues that should be taken into account in the recovery and development of communities is sustainability, which presupposes long-term planning and consideration of full life cycles, the aspiration for climate neutrality, care for future generations, preservation and restoration of nature. Climate change is an important social challenge whose consequences disproportionately affect underprivileged social groups who historically bear less responsibility for the decisions which have had a negative impact on nature and have exacerbated climate change. Thus, the introduction of public policies aimed at climate change prevention and adaptation to climate change is closely linked with the achievement of social justice, gender equality, and inclusivity.

Not all the solutions needed for recovery and progress towards gender equality and inclusion require searching for new approaches or innovative developments. A significant share of critically important measures involves the implementation of such long-familiar policies as the development of public transportation and comfortable pedestrian infrastructure, or ensuring proper functioning of kindergartens and social service provision centers. Each of these solutions is undergoing internal changes and improvements and has its own innovative approaches: modern practice may differ from the practices that were widespread decades ago. Nevertheless, in many cases the key task on the path towards implementing the gender-sensitive approach is not to look for ultramodern or digital innovations but to develop basic public infrastructure, which has been done for decades or centuries but sometimes, unfortunately, still fails to meet society’s needs and requires attention at the level of public policies. Unfortunately, in many cases the war has only exacerbated pre-existing challenges in these fields. It has resulted in the destruction of basic public infrastructure and an increased burden on this infrastructure due to forced displacement and growing needs due to the emergence of new vulnerabilities.

One of the risks in the implementation of the gender-sensitive approach is its imitation, taking measures that formally aim to achieve certain goals but actually do not promote them in practice. Since gender equality and inclusion is often a mandatory requirement to receive national or international funding, projects or programs can, in some cases, simulate expected actions or results. This is not always due to malicious intent: certain measures are often imposed by donors without taking into account the local context. For example, appointing a representative for gender equality can be ineffective in a situation of understaffing or a lack of decent working conditions, as a result of which this individual has excessive workloads and lacks capacity to properly fulfill their new duties. Developing a Safe City program without determining the key problems and analyzing alternative options for their solution in advance may lead to a situation in which perceived safety among vulnerable social groups deteriorates as a result of the implemented solutions.

One of the ways to prevent the risks is training, developing skills, and exchanging experiences, including international experiences. Public control, audit, and independent evaluation of public policies can help prevent instances where there is a lack of integrity. Systematic approach and search for the structural causes of existing problems, strategic planning and established connections between strategic and tactical solutions, and coordination within communities and local governments between different departments will help avoid ineffective measures. Integrity, good governance, and democracy are critically important in the recovery process. In order to implement the declared principles in practice, it is necessary not only to declare but also to sincerely support these ideas as well as practice their application in one’s work on a daily basis.



  • Encourage representation of women and people who belong to vulnerable population groups in key political positions. It is important to both ensure their participation in elected representative bodies, such as councils, and appoint them to positions in executive bodies, including the top leadership positions. It is necessary in this context to ensure decent working conditions and remuneration for public servants. It is especially important to strive for higher representation in fields which operate with a lot of resources and in which women have traditionally been underrepresented, such as the construction field. Useful steps can also include appointing representatives for gender policy and creating councilor groups for gender issues.
  • Make public and administrative buildings inclusive and accessible to different groups of users. Planning and design should consider the experiences and needs of different people, including people with children, people with disabilities, elderly people, in order to make sure that they can comfortably use public services. It is important to arrange accessible entrances, waiting areas, workplaces and bathrooms. It is advisable to offer gender-neutral bathrooms and changing tables accessible to people with different gender identities, fathers and mothers caring for babies. It is necessary to provide sufficient seating for waiting areas and install convenient navigation, build children’s areas or children’s rooms.
  • Engage residents in decision making, taking special steps to ensure the participation of vulnerable social groups. To make the engagement effective, engagement events should be conducted at a time that is convenient for the invited people and in places that are accessible to them, inclusive and comfortable for different groups of users. There has to be proper informing through communication channels used by the target audiences. When choosing the instruments or methods of engagement, it is important to take into account the experiences of different social groups — for example, by offering not only online but also offline mechanisms, because some people do not have uninterrupted internet connection or an advanced level of computer literacy. Specific engagement measures can include creating dedicated advisory or expert bodies, including with regard to issues of gender equality and inclusion.
  • Collect data on local development which include distribution by gender and other important characteristics. These characteristics can include age, having or not having children, having or not having disabilities, etc. In order to track the dynamics of changes, data should be collected regularly. It is also important to establish a system of proper storage, use, and exchange of data.


  • Analyze the available data and conduct research, including research of needs. The findings of this research should be taken into account in decision making and local development planning, funding distribution and evaluation of needs for certain infrastructure. Examples of useful research for local development include gender analysis and the creation of gender profiles, the creation of social passports, the conduction of gender security audits, victimology surveys, and mobility research.
  • Conduct evaluation of the quality of service provision, introduce mechanisms for user feedback. Proper monitoring and evaluation of local development programs can help identify difficulties and improve the quality of the provided services. In order to identify the existing barriers, it can also be important to study the experiences of people who do not receive certain services.


  • Take perceived security into account while organizing outdoor spaces by enabling the presence of “eyes on the street.” Stimulation of outdoor activity, proper lighting, and the creation of active and open facades increases the likelihood of people being outside or people observing the outdoor space from inside the buildings, which positively affects perceived security. Meanwhile, narrow passages, gated territories, tall fences and solid facades make being in these spaces feel dangerous. The use of surveillance cameras is only justified in specific cases, primarily to prevent theft and crimes against property — for example, in parking lots.
  • Build the system of preventing and combating gender-based violence, including mobile teams and crisis centers. It is important to train professionals, particularly psychologists, doctors, and police officers, create mobile social and psychological help teams for victims of domestic violence as well as Polina police response groups, and purchase vehicles for them. The development of the network of crisis centers involves creating shelters, centers for social and psychological help, crisis rooms, and establishing the proper functioning of the referral system.

Social protection

  • Develop the network of care facilities, particularly kindergartens and social service provision centers. Expanding the network of preschool education institutions, arranging bomb shelters at the institutions, and strengthening the capacity of the network of municipal institutions that provide social services by increasing their staff and improving their material and technical basis must be accompanied by improvements in working conditions and pay increases, as well as measures to prevent emotional burnout for the workers of these institutions.
  • Build the system of mental health care provision in hromadas. An increased need for mental health care among people affected by the war, internally displaced people, veterans and their families requires measures both to overcome stereotypes about mental health care and to expand options for receiving long-term mental health care in hromadas, including free-of-charge care. This care system can involve social centers and services, rehabilitation and health care institutions, as well as education institutions, workplaces, community centers, etc. Mental health care should be provided in accordance with the needs of the people who apply for it.
  • Create retraining and professional development programs to facilitate employment. The development of the professional education and adult education system must be accompanied by its integration with the system of employment assistance. There is a need to create short-term professional development and retraining courses at existing education institutions, as well as to open new centers for adult education. Programs for the development of entrepreneurship through grants and preferential loans can be amended with training and mentorship opportunities. Special attention should be paid to the needs of elderly people and to combating gender and age discrimination in the labor market.
  • Develop the system of long-term social housing. It is necessary to increase the supply of long-term municipally owned housing that is rented out to people in need, free of charge or for an affordable price. The development of the social housing system requires improving the capacity of local government bodies to manage this housing. The key priority is to resettle internally displaced people who are living in temporary housing and compact accommodation facilities into long-term housing. A special focus of housing policy in hromadas should be on overcoming homelessness, creating shelters for homeless people, and establishing programs for re-socialization and long-term housing provision.


  • Develop public transit as a coherent and high-quality system. The public transit network must allow all the residents in a hromada to take various routes without obstacles, with comfort and in a timely manner. The key steps towards this can include the creation of a single-ticket system; arrangement of accessible passenger boarding and disembarkment; allocation of spaces for wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles, luggage or other large items; creation of dedicated public transit lanes; installation of panic buttons; installation of information stands on public transit stops with schedules; and the equipment of stops for comfortable waiting in sunny, windy, and rainy weather.
  • Develop pedestrian infrastructure. Pedestrian infrastructure should be uninterrupted, barrier-free, comfortable for movement, and equipped with rest areas. Special attention should be paid to traffic calming measures in order to improve pedestrian safety with the aim to reach zero mortality. Important steps include constructing or renovating a network of sufficiently broad sidewalks with smooth surfaces, lowering curbs, installing benches for resting, creating green areas, prioritizing ground-level pedestrian crossings, properly lighting the crossings, installing raised crossings and traffic islands.
  • Work on complex development of safe cycling infrastructure. It is important to build bike paths and bike lanes as a coherent network which allows cyclists to plan their daily routes, as well as to create the accompanying infrastructure, such as signs and traffic lights, waiting stands, and proper parking spots. Additional measures can include the creation of bicycle rental systems, particularly automated rental systems in big cities. At the same time, in small hromadas it is possible to prioritize cycling traffic and create green cycling routes.
  • Ensure accessibility and create possibilities for the free movement of groups with limited mobility. All renovations of the street network must necessarily be accompanied by measures to improve accessibility. It is important to take into account both the needs of people with musculoskeletal impairments and the needs of other groups of people with disabilities, such as people with impairments, complete or partial loss of sight or hearing. Measures that help to ensure accessibility include installation of proper ramps, tactile strips, and audible pedestrian signal devices.


  • Create high-quality non-commercial public spaces and take into account the needs of different social groups in their design. Open public spaces include squares, parks, outdoor spaces, embankments, beaches. Public space planning must include functional zoning and, accordingly, multifunctional use to meet different needs for quiet leisure or more active leisure of varying difficulty levels for people of different ages and with different fitness levels. It is important to ensure safety and sufficient lighting in these spaces as well as their accessibility. This includes accessibility for people with limited mobility; availability of gender-neutral bathrooms and changing tables accessible to people with different gender identities, fathers and mothers caring for babies; availability of drinking water fountains and seating of different heights and sizes.
  • Develop and update the network of community and culture facilities, including libraries and club institutions. The creation of multifunctional and accessible spaces must be accompanied with program activities that meet the needs of different groups of users. These can include masterclasses and education events, meetings with creators and film screenings, collective discussions of community problems. In addition, community and culture centers can provide their facilities for the development of civic activity, grassroots initiatives, and volunteering. An important aspect of the work of these institutions is community building and improving social cohesion.
  • Develop the municipal sports infrastructure with consideration for the different needs of people depending on their gender and age. This includes both municipal sports centers with gyms and swimming pools and open outdoor infrastructure: football fields; basketball, volleyball and tennis courts; spaces for playing chess, petanque and other games; training grounds; jogging, cycling, walking, and trekking routes. Athletic infrastructure should provide enough opportunities for physical activities of varying difficulty for people with different levels of physical fitness, of different ages and genders.
  • Strengthen and support grassroots initiatives, including youth initiatives. The basis for the development of these initiatives is the engagement of different social groups in the relevant community decision making. Identification, symbolic and material support for self-organized initiatives can require additional effort by government bodies, such as the creation of a dedicated office that will provide the required support in accordance with the “one-stop shop principle” and accompany public initiatives in their interaction with other departments and services. Programs aimed to support civic activity and self-organization should pay special attention to strengthening the initiatives of people who belong to vulnerable social groups and who may have less resources of their own to implement their ideas.
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