Fedyashina Elena A.
Director of ANO "Alliance ARW (Alliance of American and Russian Women)
"We should educate girls since their school days, show them successful women who achieved considerable results in business or in their professional activities not thanks to good appearance but thanks to work and intellect."
"While helping women to confederate we put the task to support them, to give additional knowledge and to widen their social circle, to make it useful and mutually beneficial."
Graduated from the V.I. Lenin Moscow State Pedagogical Institute (University), faculty of foreign languages. On graduating from the University I worked there as lecturer. Since 1994 worked on Programs of the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank as consulting translator. Took a course and received certificate from the World Bank about successful training on programs "Real estate valuation", "Business valuation (functioning enterprise)".
I am giving lectures at IAVC (International Academy of Valuation and Consulting) on the following subjects: "Application of the profit approach in the valuation of enterprises. Basics of financial mathematics. Value of money in time. Estimation of risks."
I joined the women's movement in 1996. During four years, I was volunteer coordinator of the Alliance of American and Russian Women. Now I am director and co-director of Alliance programs, took part in the international women's conferences in Moscow, Novgorod, St-Petersburg, Washington, and Reykjavik. I have been giving reports at a number of conferences. From June 2000, I am director of the Alliance of American and Russian Women ARW.
About Alliance of American and Russian Women (AARW) and our activities
Founder of the Russian organization "Alliance ARW" was American public organization "Alliance of American and Russian Women", which also established the well-known Volkhovsky business-incubator. We address our support to women entrepreneurs. Among active participants of the Alliance's events and activities are women - business owners as well as women professionals. These are people who are active in very different spheres: directing partners of consulting, audit, legal, marketing companies, production companies, service providers, medical and psychological centers.
We established contacts with organizations that were working with women entrepreneurs in other cities. We maintain close contacts with Educational Center "Elite" in Nizhniy Novgorod, with Anti-Crisis Center in Ulyanovsk, collaborate with organizations from St-Petersburg, Volkhov, Taganrog and other cities.
One of our programs is including monthly meetings of Alliance members. We invite professional from different spheres to speak at the meetings: successful businesswomen, specialists in the field of business organization and management, psychologists, top managers, prominent public persons. In addition, representatives from Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland, USA and France take part in our meetings.
Moreover, not only invited experts but also professional from our circle are addressing these meetings. We have been conducting these meetings already during four years at the same time - every third or fourth Tuesday of the month. We can value the effect of these meetings on the increasing number of our permanent participants as well as newcomers who join us. Now we already have more than two hundred people on the list. We consider it as our task to confederate women in order to support them, to give them additional knowledge and widen their social circle and to make it useful and mutually beneficial. I think that we succeed in it. For example, two women have got acquainted at one of our meetings: the one was director of a production company and the other was head of a marketing company - now they cooperate. In that way, our meetings are interesting and useful not only through lectures but through contacts as well. We do our best to contribute to collaboration of women between themselves: we provide our e-mail and website for spreading out of business information, assist in search of business partners for women entrepreneurs.
Our second above mentioned program is called Project "Business exchange of women entrepreneurs" and is developed in partnership with the American non-for-profit organization "Alliance of American and Russian Women" and Volkhovsky business-incubator. Our efforts are aimed at direct assistance to Russian businesswomen. The main point of the project is that a volunteer consultant from America is coming to Russia for two weeks to share her experience in the field of business management with Rusian women entrepreneurs. We worked out a full package of documents for Russian participants. Now we are collecting forms from interested persons. We already received requires from Volkhov, Taganrog, Ulyanovsk, Nizhniy Novgorod. Would women in other cities be interested to take part in our project it is also possible. For more information about this area of our activities, you can visit our website: http://www.ARRWomen.ru.
Modern women - do they want to be leaders?
According to my personal experience, I can say that women possess a great potential and they would like to take part in the social life. For example, who are participants of our meetings? These are not the women who are looking how and where to while away the time: these are women with active life position who achieved certain position and success in their professional life, they work very hard and they care about their families. Nevertheless, they do find time to come to our meetings. They easily respond when we ask them for support or for a new initiative. Every woman should feel her social necessity. I cannot say that opinions and positions of all women are in close agreement with each other. However, ability to respect someone else's opinion and to discuss things - it is already a step to partnership. I think that women should confederate on the professional indication not only in Moscow but in regions also.
What preconditions are needed for women to become leader, manager?
I think we should start working with girls from senior school grades because they do not have examples of successful women. I know it from my personal experience - I have a teenage daughter. Girls see on the TV screens beautiful models who earn huge amounts of money for supposedly easy work and girls think that it is an ideal which they should try to reach. Nevertheless, this is false guiding line. We should educate girls since their school days; show them successful women who achieved considerable results in business or in their professional activities not thanks to good appearance but thanks to work and intellect. For example, I admire women who come to us: they are well-educated, successful, happy, clever, always work for self-perfection and long for new knowledge.
While demonstrating positive examples to the young generation, we give them two stimuli at once: to obtain a good education and to become an independent personality. We should show positive examples - to write and talk about successful women managers. Usually women with traditional stereotypes have a skeptical opinion about women who achieved great results in business. Mass media support this position also: "Woman did not achieve success by herself - somebody helped her, somebody gave a push to her success."
Nevertheless, this opinion is false and underestimates women's abilities. The example of women with whom we were working and who achieved success by themselves, by their hard work convinced me in it. They take an active and independent position. Our women miss an elementary recognition of their achievements by the society and real examples: we can seldom read something about successful women. And if they write something than the hero of an article is Director of a bank or is in similar top and very hard to achieve position. They established their businesses from zero: first rented a room, renewed it by themselves; now they have flower salons, beauty shops, consultancies and translating companies, non-governmental educational centers. Underestimated self-appraisal and self-consciousness of the modern women are very often in occurrence and often happens that even taking a leading position woman does not feel and act like a leader.
How could you explain a small number of women in politics? What are the ways of involvement women into the highest levels of decision-making?
Now the stereotypes are of that kind, that ordinary people understand their participation in "politics" as just voting at the elections. This is a very passive position. Our election technologies are created in that way that common people do not understand for whom they vote and consequently they are not aware of the activities' results of elected politicians and deputies. Examples of behavior of politicians that we can learn from the mass media cannot inspire anyone as well. In that way, participation in politics does not look attractive at all.
For women the constructive labor might be of a great interest - confederation in groups on professional interests. Gradually, a certain point of view is appearing in these groups. If women find single-minded women and work out the common opinion - than they can go to the higher level - to the sphere of politics. I think that this is the most logical approach to movement of women into politics.
What impact made on you personal and on your further activities participation in the events in the frames of the initiative "Vital Voices" (conference in Reykjavik and following meetings)?
Conference in Reykjavik was, as I think, one of the most remarkable and outstanding events of 1999. The conference was perfectly prepared, organized and was a powerful stimulus for establishment and development of new contacts, ideas and joint projects. We can consider a number of our present projects as sequent and development of the ideas of "Vital Voices": this is widening and strengthening of relations between women professionals and women entrepreneurs, establishment of a base for their business and professional communications, exchange of experience and information, development of leadership skills, organizations of groups of mutual assistance, organization of meetings, conferences and seminars on experience exchange.
Our present key project is called "Business exchange of women entrepreneurs" and proposes volunteer work of successful American women entrepreneurs as consultants for Russian women entrepreneurs at Russian enterprises. As the result of the collaboration a Russian woman entrepreneur can receive from the first hand the information about the most up-to-day tendencies in the sphere where she is working, to increase the effectiveness of function of her enterprise, to develop new directions of work and to think over plans of cooperation for the future. This is a long-term program, which is providing information exchange and keeping of contacts between the participants after closing down the main part of business exchange.
Unfortunately, many contacts that we established at the conference in Reykjavik did not develop further. We did not even receive the invitation for the conference "Vital Voices" which will take place in Vilnius in June of this year although we waited for this conference and were ready to address the conference with a number of new ideas and projects.
We shall hope that the initiative "Vital Voices" will develop successfully in the future and will involve more participants and confederates.