Dorutina Tatiana Sergeevna
Chairman of the Advisory Board of the public organization "League of Women Voters of St.-Petersburg"
"It is obvious that staff complement of the governing and executive bodies does not correspond with the real gender alignment in the society"
"Men - Deputies of the State Duma when asked in what Parliament Committees they would prefer to work are not interested in working in the Committees which are in charge of health care, family policy, social care and gender equality."
"Presence of women representatives of non-for-profit organizations in the governing bodies will be a very valuable reinforcement now, when civil population and representatives of governing bodies live in parallel worlds and their interests never intersect with each other."
Opinion about women's leadership in politics, social life and business in the present Russia
The last 10 years of aggravation of political, economical and social situation in Russia is characterized by decreasing of the number of women in power bodies. It is obvious, that these two processes are interconnected. Galina Starovoytova thought that when women come to politics and economy, politics would go down from the heaven to earth and become closer to the vital needs of the population and more realistic and human also. However, this bright time did not come yet.
As specialists estimate, women in Russia make approximately 53% of the population and they live in average 10 years more than men do. Among people with higher education, women make 56%. Consequently, women predominate over men in the Russian electorate, especially among active and conscious voters - we cannot say the same about the staff complement of legislative and executive bodies. On the decision-making level this intellectual potential is practically not used in Russia.
In the system of state authorities women take positions which are not influencing decision making in any way: they make 56% of all employees of the state level authorities but only 9% take rather high positions, and only 1,3% - senior positions in the supreme bodies.
In 90-s a number of documents has been adopted, which declared obligations to correct gender misbalance on the decision-making level but since that time situation decreased. During past 10 years the number of women in legislative bodies has been reduced. The number of women deputies in the State Duma of the third calling decreased from 13,6 to 7,7 percent. Russia is taking now the 80th place in the world after Guinea Bissau and before Cambodia regarding the number of women in Parliament. There is not a single woman among Members of Government of St.-Petersburg. Only 3 per cent of the Chairmen Committees and Departments of City Administrations are women, but already 29 per cent women are their deputy's chairmen. In St-Petersburg, Leningrader Region there is only one woman in legislatures, in a number of Russian regions including Regions of Ryazan, Kursk, Omsk and Tomsk - being deputy is a purely male obligation. When the lists of one-mandate deputies are made, men are always preferred because ostensibly women are not elected.
"Male" legislative and executive power in Russia pays less and less attention to women's social interests and does not use their life experience and knowledge but promotes only global and often even aggressive interests. The complete economical legislature created by the Russian Parliament, conduces to preservation and intensifying of economical and social inequality between sexes since it is oriented at creation of more favorable conditions for "male" fields of activities than for "female" ones. Men - Deputies of the State Duma when asked in what Parliament Committees they would prefer to work are not interested in working in the Committees which are in charge of health care, family policy, social care and gender equality.
However, women are the ones who make a majority in the health care, education, culture and science. It is obvious that personal staff complement of the governing and executive bodies does not correspond with the real gender alignment in the society.
We should emphasize: in spite of the fact that women do not participate in administrating on the governing decision making level, they cover many breaches in the state politics while being the most active participants of the civil society in our country. Women are directing the majority of non-for-profit social organizations, which started to develop from the 90-s. The practical work of "League of Women Voters" on creation of a network of organizations in Russian regions testify that women are being easily involved into a new field of activities - work in non-for-profit organizations.
Now the Russian third sector is a mass public movement that is permanently growing and gaining new human, financial, material and organizational resources; it has a huge positive experience in solving of social problems. According to the data of Goskomstat RF, the number of non-for-profit organizations in Russia was on the 1st January 2000 nearly 485 thousands; international non-governmental organizations are making joint projects with the Russian third sector on the amounts of hundreds of millions US Dollars and these projects contribute to reforming in all spheres.
Moreover, many public organizations are established on the principle of a common trouble and taking care of problems that are missing attention and funding of the state (refugees, AIDS, home violence, drug addiction, homeless people, teenagers' criminality and neglecting, problems of old people etc.). They render direct support to the poorest, offer various kinds of social care and assistance. The most "capacious" field of civil initiatives is the social sphere, where non-for-profit organizations, mostly women's organizations, serve app. 30 millions citizens per year and help the state budget and are frankly speaking leaders of the social reform. While the state is speaking about the necessity of direct support, non-for-profit organizations are working only with focus groups.
Two points of view exist among the women's non-for-profit organizations about nomination of their representatives at the elections of different levels. One point of view is not to go to politics, which are defined with one word only - "dirty" - in our country and better to do their best to render direct help to the people who really need it. The other point of view is and has the tendency to grow - state is working ineffectively and does not take into account people's interests and therefore it is necessary to promote the representatives of the third sector to legislative authorities and fight for our interests ourselves.
Women - leaders of non-for-profit organizations who went through the school of civil society are the intellectual potential that could be successfully used in power structures in Russia.
Attitude to the initiative of building a partnership between women aimed at women's promotion
I am sure that the initiative "Vital Voices. Women in Democracy" aimed at the establishing of partnership between governments, non-governmental organizations and private sector everywhere in the world is very necessary and urgent now. The possibility of such a collaboration will give Russian women the chance to gain necessary knowledge, experience and confidence to move to the highest levels of the governing, social and business life.
Since 4 years, the League of Women Voters has been publishing the newspaper with the same name, which focuses at the problems of improvement of women's status in the society. The League of Women Voters establishes the network of organizations in Russian regions (more than 10 organizations) and draws social engaged women to work in non-for-profit organizations. Our organizations render informational and consulting support to women, who are candidates to different representative power bodies. Around hundred women from St-Petersburg, Leningrad Region, Tver, Kaliningrad, who took part in our seminars "School for women candidates" became deputies on different levels, for the present mostly on the municipal level. Attached to the League we opened the club "Municipal", where women deputies and representatives of women's public organizations are working on improvement of status of women, who participate in administrative decision-making. The League conducts hearings on gender problems involving executive and representative power authorities, women from the business sphere and representatives of non-for-profit organizations.
Our activities are addressed to support women leaders who develop new niches for self-realization in the social sphere in the changed social and economical conditions, representatives of women's public organizations, women deputies and social engaged women who are intending to be candidates to representative power bodies of different levels, women - owners of small and medium businesses.
What stays in the way of women's self-realization in the present Russia?
Russian Federation in spite of all carried out reforms is a very patriarchal country, ruled ineffectively, wasteful regarding its human and natural resources. Traditions of the active social role of men are very strong here, and women are assigned to play second if not the farer roles. Although statistics show that the electorate is not completely against women: app. 30 per cent of all voters is ready to vote for women, and 41 per cent from them are men.
Therefore the most important now is working on population's education: informational support in the field of women's movement will contribute to the changing of traditional opinion of our citizens; systematical work with mass media on creation of image of a woman of the new millennium as an equal partner of man in all fields of public life; it is reasonable to fulfill the projects aimed at improvement of the social role of woman in Russia through creation of social and image publicity of successful women on TV; educational work with women leaders, their activation and involvement into political and social work. Political parties, public organizations and mass media should systematically carry out educational activities. Public organizations while working with single persons could push the most active women to participate in elections on different levels. We should form public opinion in favor of the conviction that absence of women in the candidates' lists of political parties is just indecent and damages the state policy because does not take into account the interests of the big part of the population; we should push the political elite to the decision of involvement of women in politics and introduction of quotation system.
We should openly try to change state policy regarding appointment of women on senior positions in the executive structures where their activities will make the best publicity for improvement of women's status in the society.
What are the ways to stimulate women's involvement into political, economical and social life of the country?
We can discuss solution of this problem on the government level through taking resolutions of the Government or through creation of commissions on women's issues in different power structures, but the praxis shows bad results of such methods, imposed from the top. However, the Constitution of Russian Federation declares equal rights for men and women now.
Women should go out of the political stupor and start to nominate and elect their best representatives to the power structures in order they can decide urgent and social vital problems.
In politics like in any other professional activities, the people who possess necessary skills and abilities are optimal acting. Such skilled persons can be equally male or female. Praxis shows that many women who want to be engaged in the social life just do not dare to take part in the elections. After receiving the necessary information, they often start their political carrier. In case they win on various levels their participation in the work of power structures becomes specially valuable because unlike many people who go to politics to improve their well-being and get different benefits, women deputies work disinterested and for benefit of the society.
The voters in our country do not have real chances to vote for women: the number of them is disproportionably small among the candidates to different elective positions. Now these are women who do not want to seize the opportunity to realize their right "to be elected" to the supreme power bodies. Hence follows the small percentage of women who consciously went to the elections on the federal and regional levels. In December 1999 at the State Duma elections, where there were 225 one-mandate electoral districts, there was not a single woman candidate among 74 districts and only one woman from each district - in 73 districts. At the Legislative Assembly's elections in St-Petersburg in 1998, there were only 70 women among 587 candidates (from 50 electoral districts) - 12 per cent from the total amount. Only 9 women passed to the second round and only one of them became deputy and she already was an acting deputy to that time.
The lower the level of the representative power is the more women work there. Therefore, there were app. 40% women among candidates at the St-Petersburg municipal elections of 1997-1998, and 31 per cent of them won elections. Municipal election campaign of 2000 proved that there were a big number of women nominated as candidates to MSU and the presence of women in municipal authorities raised to 47 per cent. In other regions, we can see nearly the same picture. Exactly at the elections to municipal councils women have more chances to be elected because the voter's psychology admits that women are able to decide problems of household, services, social care, education etc., although they do not want to see them on the supreme positions in power structures. Women who have experience of being elected and working in municipal structures should be supported and promoted to the highest level.
Women in Russia do not participate in work of political parties, but parties are not interested to promote women either, because as they say nobody votes for women. The presence of women in parties is infinitesimal - 2%. Where from come people to the election list, which at 98% consists of men? The answer is obvious - from the structures of the same power, which is made up 90% of men. That means that people come to power without going through the school of civil society. Presence of women representatives of non-for-profit organizations in the governing bodies will be a very valuable reinforcement now, when civil population and representatives of governing bodies live in parallel worlds and their interests never intersect with each other. The inevitable condition for women who are intending to participate in politics is necessity to identify themselves with a political party. This is the belonging to a party, which provides the financial side of election campaign and is a necessary component of successful elections. Nevertheless, women often go for elections with bright intentions and openhearted without appraising of their resources: financial, human and informational. In the Russian reality the sex of a candidate who has unlimited resources does not matter. Success of three women (I.Khamada, O.Dmitrieva, V.Ivanova) in the State Duma elections in St-Petersburg in 1999 confirms this fact.
About possible forms of partnership between women leaders of political and commercial structures and public initiatives
I think that to achieve our main goal - involvement of women into different spheres of social and governmental activities - we cannot reduce the problem of partnership only to women's community. If we put the question like that, it will be destructive in the country where men are taking decisions.
We cannot also hide the fact that women's movement is not homogeneous concerning political opinions. When public organizations enter into relations with political parties directed by women, political conflicts often arise because most of the women's political parties belong to the left movement that is supported by the minority of the population.
It is also necessary to take into account factors of mutual interests and benefits. The attempt to make profit from the partnership will destroy them from the very beginning.
The first step on the way of building a partnership, as I think, should be working out through leaders of women's non-for-profit organizations a strategy and tactics of partnership.
Strategic tasks are as follows: organizing of a constructive dialogue between women's organizations, political parties and commercial structures, this dialogue should take into account interests of all the sides.
One of the tactical tasks might be establishment of a special women's fund, which will be created by businesswomen and aimed at fundraising for support of women candidates of different power structures (analogue - "Emily's List" in USA). Praxis shows that women deputies of the State Duma who received support from "male" political parties during their election campaign, are acting on "male" stereotypes during their work in Duma and forget about advocacy of women's rights. In case when women candidates receive support from women's organizations, they have to consider their opinion.
Woman politician, businesswoman - these are new professions for Russia. Woman always was following in men's footsteps; in the XX century she won her right for education and right to vote. At dawn of a new millennium, she can defend her right to participate in the ruling the state.
Acknowledgment of the equal rights of women and men to participate in ruling the country will be of great use for the State of Russia.