When Russia was controlled by the Soviets in the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet Constitution of 1977 “stipulated that men and women have equal rights, and that women have equal access to education and training, employment, promotions,remuneration, and participation in social, cultural, and political activity.” There were also special medical and workplace protections put into place for women-especially the 112 day paid maternity leave!
Although, it didn’t plant a garden of daisies.
Even though the law prohibited discrimination against women for maternity leave and other additional company expenses, women were and still are paid less than men. In Russia, women are paid about 70 cents on the dollar to men. And some areas of discipline are worse than others in terms of the wage gap.
Just like the U.S. as well, women in Russia have difficulties obtaining high numbers of senior management level positions as well as government positions. Despite the proactive nature of the laws put in place by the Soviets to protect the status of women, enforcement and acceptance of the laws guaranteed a struggle for women in the country.
Two of the largest social issues facing women in Russia include abuse and the family. There is a shocking statistic that over 300,000 domestic abuse cases were filed and over 14,000 women were murdered by their husbands or lovers in a single year in the 1990s. Families are falling apart in Russia where single mothers are becoming more and more common. In addition, the stereotype and implementation of Russian “mail order brides” has also led to a sense of ‘cheapening women’.
Who knew we would have so much in common with the women of Russia? Wage gaps, trying to protect our families and ourselves, and preventing abuse are huge issues that many women face daily in the United States.
So, what are the women of Russia doing about it?
There are a few organizations that have sprung up in Russia including Women in Russia, the Russian Women’s Party, and the Women’s Movement of Russia (WMR). Check out WMR’s website at www.owl.ru/win/women/wmr/indexe.htm if you have a chance, their objectives are very interesting! Most of the women’s groups in Russia are liberal, which has discouraged many from joining or supporting because they want to protect traditional family values.
It will be interesting to see where the women in Russia go, as they struggle within their country to gain a voice and gain protection.