Gordeeva Marina Vladimirovna
Head of the Department on Women, Children and Family Issues of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development of the Russian Federation, Executive Secretary of the Commission on Women's Status Improvement by the Government of the Russian Federation
"Due to lack of protectability an misbalance of the consciousness occurs: women are forced to work and make a carrier because they are not sure that in their old age they will have financial security. Life strategy of everyone should be respected and we should work in that way that the opportunity to choose guarantees a decent living."
I graduated from the economical faculty of the Moscow State University. 1979 I made my Ph.D. on the subject that was connected with the functions of women in family and employment sphere. The choice of the subject was predetermined by the year - 1975, when I started my post-graduate studies - was announced a Year of Women. Since that time the "women's subjects" are present in my life: it is possible to value on my experience the importance of international initiatives and actions, which somehow or other attract attention of those who did not make any thoughts about women's situation in the society before. On completion of the post-graduate studies I worked in the Committee of Soviet Women (public organization) which was in charge of women's status in social, political, professional and family spheres. Therefore, I can say that my whole life is inseparably linked with women's issues. In the Ministry I am from 1997
About activities of the Department of Children, Women and Family Issues of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and Commission on Women's Status Improvement by the Government of the Russian Federation
Our Department is a link in the chain of solution of problems, which are connected with women's status in the society. The system is built so, that there is a Committee on children, women and youth's issues on the legislative level in the State Duma. In addition, on the executive level our Department on children, women and family issues of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development of the Russian Federation is in charge of these problems. On the governmental level Commission on Women's Status Improvement headed by Vice Prime Minister of Russian Federation V.I. Matvienko is working. I am Executive Secretary of this Commission and our Department provides organizational issues concerned with the activities of the Commission.
Commission includes representatives of the main ministries and departments of the social bloc, a number of representatives of public and scientific organizations. The main function of the Commission is coordination of activities of ministries and departments on the issue of women's situation in the society. The main tasks of the commission are as follows: to examine the most sufficient problems, to make certain managerial decisions with fixed deadlines and to check up the fulfillment of made decisions. For example, at one of the Commission's meetings we discussed the problem of the level of women interests' security in the bills of the new Labour Code and accordingly the presentation of women's interests in the governmental bill. Also Deputies of the State Duma took part in this discussion. At the last meeting of the Commission the proposals were discussed that have been submitted to the State Duma: alterations to the Law about social insurance connected with pregnancy and child delivery: how rights of pregnant women and mothers in the Law about social Insurance are observed and about proposed alterations - do they correspond with women's interests and do they not impair the earlier rendered guarantees. Some critical remarks are advanced toward Commission's activities from the side of public organizations, which believe that they are not sufficiently represented in the work of the Commission. However, this situation is caused by the function of the Commission: the Commission is a working apparatus aimed at decision-making but not at discussions.
About partnership between state structures and public initiatives
Attached to the Department the Round Table of women's non-governmental organizations is functioning. All the questions that are submitted for discussion at the Commission's meetings are as a rule preliminary examined at that Round Table due to hear and to take into account opinions of public organizations and to have additional arguments by decision making.
The other opportunity for a dialogue is conducting of various All-Russian forums. On the initiative of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and Government of the Russian Federation we conducted several All-Russian conferences on subject "Contemporary woman - rights, reality, prospective"; three conferences were dedicated to the 4th World Conference on Women's Status in Beijing: preparatory conference after Beijing (with discussion of working plan on realization of Beijing resolutions) and the last one - "Five years after Beijing". There are also other discussion's forms: round tables, seminars. The Department's terms of reference cover also developing the scheme of collaboration with women's public organizations. We are trying to follow strictly the intended plan of activities of the Round Table. Besides, Department participates in realization of initiative international projects, which are in reference of the Ministry. For example, Department carried out under support of EC TACIS Program the project "Public organizations in the social sphere." In this project, we worked through the scheme of the solution of social problems with the assistance of public organizations. In cooperation with Crisis Center "Anna" and Canadian Fund for Social Initiatives Support Department conducted a number of seminars on the subject of home violence. One of the main goals of this seminar was an inter-departmental discussion on this subject, which means consolidating of means of social sphere, health care and Ministry of Internal Affairs aimed at working out the common approach and mutual understanding of the problem and coordination of certain practical problems of activities. And now we do our best to make people understand that this problem is a common social problem, which should be solved immediately.
Equal rights and equal opportunities
The state has declared necessity of specific state measures aimed at advocacy of interests of men and women. There is no doubt that the task of our Department as the state apparatus is to put the declared state policy into practice. We should work out concrete measures in this direction.
The other component is active involvement of women into political and social life. According to this task, we should support and develop public initiatives and civil position. Therefore, the solution of this common social task demands working out of general understanding and common language for discussions both for representatives of the state power and for public organizations.
Department makes everything possible in this direction in the frames of its reference, but often our activities are limited by shortage of time and human resources. There are also certain problems on the level of understanding of real gender equality by other departments. To solve this problem we need to change the structures of adjoining departments. Experience of a number of countries, which achieved success in the social sphere, demonstrates that each ministry has a department or executive officer that is in charge of controlling the gender parity; functions and activities of such a department or executive officer are strictly determined. Also volunteers might be in charge of such a kind of work in case if ministries are not engaged in these activities. In that way when the state declares its will, it should be accomplished on the executive level as well.
My personal attitude to women's promotion
I am involved into the subject "women - society" already for several tens of years and I consider this process in the following way. Promotion of women is not an end in itself. There is principle of equal rights and opportunities for women and men and accordingly parity participation of both of them in all the spheres of life including decision-making level (taking into consideration life experience both of men and women). I am sure that the principle of equality should be observed. The most vital is as I think the sphere of personnel policy. Now women are active, well educated and are widely represented in all the spheres. Nevertheless, the higher we go on the scale of power the less women we meet there. I think that this problem is caused by the mechanism of unwritten restriction of women's promotion. This is a personnel problem: competition, deliberate selection, promotion. It is necessary to take off all the restrictions, which discriminate women, for example existence of unwritten rules (but fixed in different instructions), which limit the second higher education on the indication of age and are age discrimination. We should also take into account the childbearing age of women includes age of 35-40 years. Naturally, I understand that it will be very difficult to advance this subject of discussion, but it is very actual because now there is no balance in perception of this situation. Undoubtedly, we should contribute to involvement of women into managerial work on the decision making level. I feel it clearly on my level: when you are in homogeneous surroundings (male or female) than a gender minority - "stranger" - is often seized. I experienced that many times. Once I watched the converse situation: at one of the meetings in the Ministry of Education the most participants were women and the only one man who did not know how to address this "majority" with his questions. The numeral superiority of one of the sexes creates certain microclimate. As for me, I easier speak and solve certain problems with women. For men it is easier to agree with men. Therefore, changes will not happen by the natural way. We need certain stage personnel solutions.
Should we make special arrangements to give our women the chance to be more active?
From my point of view, we do not need to activate our women on the beginning stage. They are active enough, learn, and get professional education.
However, not all women need "long distances". For the majority of women the main mission in their life is family and children. Moreover, I know that they consider it not as traditional stereotype but as women's predestination. If we examine the problem of women's activation from that point of view, I consider it very important that women and men have equal opportunities and their rights are not restricted. We should achieve that the zones disappear where women have to fight their way through but women should join them if they wish to. I think that creation of a family, bringing up children - these are very important and great tasks. They are very laborious and emotional consuming but at the same time they are very gratifying. There is no universal ideal of combination of family life and professional career for women. We should raise social status of women who are directing their efforts mostly towards family, we should provide social security for them regarding social care and security in their old ages. Because due to lack of protectability an misbalance of the consciousness occurs: women are forced to work and make a carrier because they are not sure that in their old age they will have financial security. Life strategy of everyone should be respected and we should work in that way that the opportunity to choose guarantees a decent living. A warp to one of the sides is dangerous. Because the sense of life is in its continuation.
About position quotation for women on different levels
Today it became obvious that we have to change the situation in the field of women's participation in politics. Therefore, any discussions on this subject I could only welcome. Nevertheless, there are no ready-to-use decisions in this sphere. The main thing is presence of understanding of necessity of changes and opportunity to discuss the subject professionally and from many sides. This will contribute to opening of closed subjects and to recognition of the importance of the problem of women's involvement into politics. Decisions could be very different and depend on the general political situation in the country. We can do it not only through introduction of the quotation system. Perhaps, introduction of the quotation system is the optimal solution right now. On different levels discussions are held, where it will be more reasonable to introduce quotas: in the electoral districts or in the party lists. My personal opinion is: the optimal choice now is encouragement of quotation places for women in the party lists. And on which level the quotation system should be introduced - this is the question which the reference of political parties cover, these are their internal decisions. To select and train women leaders we can use different organizational forms. There are chains of party arrangements, which contribute to education of leaders. Women's sections and different discussions inside the parties are essential right now.