Russian Keys

The Modern Face of Russia: Russian Women: Stereotypes and Reality

Dr Olga Suvorova

Director, Russian Keys Limited

The workshop is dedicated to a controversial yet most important topic of women in Russia and their status. The historical and cultural analysis is illustrated through various visual material including my family photo archive. You will learn more about the following:

Russian women-leaders. Russia is known for being a patriarchal country, women make up only 13 percent of deputies in the Russian State Duma and at the federal level, their representation is even lower - at 6 percent. In 2012, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Russian was ranked 96 - as one of the bottom countries in terms of women’s participation in politics and decision-making processes, along with Somalia and Swaziland - with only 13 female senators out of a total of 163. As well as being limited in number, Russia's women politicians aren't portrayed as having a lot of influence, and none of them were listed in the Forbes’ ranking of “the world’s most powerful women”.
Russian brides – stereotype or reality? It’s about 1.5 women per 1 man in Russia and only in 60 Russian cities out if 1038 have more men than women. Hungry, with no job and prospects, mostly educated and beautiful Russian women had to leave the Soviet Union in early 1990s when the country and the system collapsed. Today most Russian women are happy enough to stay in their country, they are professional and successful in their careers and take care and responsibility for their families and kids.

Historical perspective of the status of women in Russia. Most of attention, argument and revelation date to the periods of national reforms, restructuring and revolutions. Time of Peter the Great, profound reforms, the first revolution and perestroika would make people revise the woman’s status again and again. After the revolution of 1917, the woman was proclaimed to be equal to the man. As a result, a controversy occurred: women were admitted to men’s jobs, while keeping their own. World War 2 aggravated the situation with Russian women carrying all the burden of civilian labour. The maternal, female and civil heroism were equally encouraged and stimulated by Soviet ideology.

Role of a woman in the Russian family structure. Traditionally this was a pledge of moral and economic stability, while ensuring perfect fit with the system of social relations and the overall state structure. Hierarchic, androcentric and based on full obedience to the head of the house and on segregation of duties.

Cult of a woman in Russia. Russia (Moscow) feminine in the Russian language, Mother Earth, Motherland, Kiev as the Mother of Russian towns (although Kiev seems to be masculine in the Russian language), and even Odessa-Mom. As far as religion is concerned, the chef cult is that of Mother Mary, it is her that protects the Russian land.

Russian folklore and traditional values of Russian women. Main heroines in Russian and their choices and values (the heroine being docile is not subdued, she is very active, energetic and wise and she makes miracles)