Ukraine Must Bring Back Women Abroad to Revive the Economy
If Ukraine fails to convince 2.8 million able-bodied refugee women to return, it could cost the country 10% of its annual pre-war Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to Bloomberg.
This figure could exceed the annual €12.5 billion (approximately $13.9 billion) aid package offered by the EU to Ukraine over the next four years.
"Personally, victory means Ukrainian families reuniting within Ukraine, not abroad. Therefore, the most crucial task now for Ukraine, for the Ukrainian government, is to do everything possible to bring back women with children to their husbands and reunite them in Ukraine," said Deputy Minister of Economy Tetyana Berezhna.
The Ukrainian government has ambitious plans for post-war reconstruction, aiming to double the size of the Ukrainian economy by 2032. However, the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine notes a shortage of 4.5 million workers and entrepreneurs necessary to achieve this goal. They intend to fill this gap through a combination of returning refugees (of which 60% hold diplomas) and foreign workers.
To achieve this, the government is working on incentives to encourage women to return to Ukraine, including new labor laws, efforts to reduce gender pay gaps, and grants to help the spouses of those serving on the front lines start businesses.
Combined, Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) constitute nearly a third of the 37.3 million population that, according to the government, lived in Ukrainian-controlled territory prior to the full-scale Russian invasion. While most internally displaced individuals within the country can still contribute to Ukraine's economy, those currently living abroad are finding employment, paying taxes, and boosting production in the countries that have taken them in.
Many refugees will eventually return home, but as past wars have shown, this process can be significantly prolonged. According to the United Nations, it took almost a decade after the end of the last war in Europe, the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s, for half of the 2 million refugees and internally displaced individuals to return home.