Karelova Galina Nikolayevna
First Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Development of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Women's Issues Commission by the Federation Council
"First of all we should try to change
woman's consciousness concerning herself."
Two years ago, I was defending my Ph.D. thesis in gender adaptation in the modern society on the example of women's adaptation. It was a hard defending: conception of "gender" provoked circumspection, misunderstanding and therefore the academic council did not like it although I respected everybody from its members. But it turned out, that even scientists who were advanced in social subjects made up their mind against it. Therefore, I was ready that they would smash my thesis to pieces. Nevertheless, this thesis was needed at that time: it was the first thesis on gender issues in Russia. I had to dwell on that moment on purpose to illustrate the fact that attitude to women's problems in our society is not having a single meaning yet. The moment the questions about women and men's equality or women's discrimination in the society are brought up - straight away difficulties appear. Perhaps, many years unless decades should pass by to make all the people (even intellectual and educated) think and speak about these issues easily, without protest which arises from the moment when the task is set.
What are the ways of positive changes in the society towards the modern woman politician?
I think that there are two ways to change existing "traditional" stereotypes: first of all, to change stereotypes, which women have towards themselves. I suppose that it is the most difficult part of the task. Many of us do not even suspect how deep the "traditional" attitude to woman is stuck in our mind. Moreover, it is more difficult to change this attitude than to change the men's stereotypes of attitude to women and women's issues. By the way, when men see qualified work of an intelligent and professional woman and if they once have a chance to work together with such a woman - that is enough for them to change attitude to women in general. Mass media show us always the same images of women and we see always-same portraits of well-promoted persons. Therefore, men of "big politics" never change their attitude to the image of the present women politicians. It will last until mass media and we ourselves do realize that we need to show other women leaders who at the same time combine professionalism and women's qualities. When a woman politician looses her women's features, she is no longer interesting as person as well. As a rule, women in big politics are proceeding from the traditional social roles and especially the ones of them who are not engaged in so-called "women's subjects" and try to reproduce the men's style of work and behavior - and become uninteresting - strange though it may seem. It is naive to think that woman can "play" men's role better than men do. Women are valuable through bringing in their own style. Therefore, I suppose that in first place women should change self-appraisal and their style of behavior.
The second way is to change men's stereotypes. I think that one of the methods to do it is the same: to talk about women. Drawing up national plans and reports will not change much in the real life. We need real measures on promotion of women to the decision making level.
What is the reason of the weak presence of women leaders in politics? What is your personal experience of coming into big politics?
First of all, women after coming into big politics and taking high positions are afraid to remain women. I do not know why. Perhaps, everybody has his own answer: if men come to politics easier than women do and are more successful in there, women think that they can succeed doing everything the same way. Women should not be afraid and shy of themselves. The women's component is missing now in the society, on each level of politics, economy etc. The lack of woman's creative and spiritual vision is the very factor, why society is developing one-sided, aggressive and hard and causes so many losses.
Secondly, as I already told, women do not trust themselves: they see their hard way to politics and therefore they do not trust other women as well. Last elections proved it clearly one more time: women are not going to vote for women. This problem occurs to be very difficult. Many years ago when I was nominated a candidate for People's Deputies of USSR, I lost, but I firstly was confronted with the fact that the most difficult thing during elections' campaign was to meet with the women's auditorium. It was much more easier with the men's auditorium: they listened to me, applauded and supported me. I had to learn how to associate with the women's auditorium. From there the understanding came, that first of all we have to try to change woman's consciousness concerning herself. After the first failure I decided to do my very best to attract women's support - and I won. I founded "Association of Ural's Women" and started step by step to change our consciousness, to teach women how they should respect and support each other.
At the last elections, when I was nominated a candidate for the State Duma from the Ordzhonikidze district of the Sverdlovsk region, 2000 women volunteers worked with me - and I knew that I would win although we did not have any money for the campaign. I am a social worker and that explains everything. This district presented 17 candidates: 16 men and one woman - me. Nevertheless, I had such an active - the team of women volunteers! Moreover, we worked out a clear strategy and tactic: which meant special elections' technologies that could never be mastered by men. We tested these technologies on ourselves. Now mostly "dirty" technologies are used, but even this kind of technologies cannot withstand conventional "women's" methods, which unfortunately have not been used during the last elections' campaign. It is more logical to "propose" few women candidates in the districts and than step by step go forward. "To promote" the movement in whole is not that easy.
I am sure that if women support women the money's influence will decrease. When women become supporter but not opponents of women, they can guide any women to the highest political position. However, first we have to teach women how to use specific technologies of women's nomination and promotion. Secondly, it is significant that they want it by themselves: it is very important that woman herself overcomes her stereotypes and she is not afraid to vote for a woman. We have "to promote" a large number of women in order to succeed in this process. Women's names should be heard everywhere. Nevertheless, we hear only a couple of names: Irina Khamada, Ekaterina Lakhova, Lyubov Sliska. We should hear much more women's names. I am very grateful to the women's organizations that are educating the society on women's issues. I try to do my best to read all the magazines concerning women's issues. But it seems to me that press is seldom showing women in the right way - not one-sided. Women leaders are presented in a male way, through the prism of men's vision. I think that women's images should be presented in the very different way - but how - we should search for new forms and technologies together. However, we should also remember that a man politician is a combination of the power and intellectual potential; woman politician is a combination of intellect and conscience, and they together will make the perfect combination for the modern Russian politics - combination of power, intellect and conscience.
Woman in politics now - is it an accident or development tendency of the present society?
Already now, 37 women take positions of ministers and deputy ministers in various ministries and departments. And that is wonderful! Last year there were only 24 women's names on this list. When President proposes a woman to be the deputy of the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation we can already speak about women's promotion as a tendency. Yes, no fiery speeches are made, but the process is going on. During the last year 12 women were promoted to the senior positions of the highest level. Prime Minister Mikhail Kassyanov supports this kind of approach very actively. When he was in the position of Minister of Finance, he already at that time had three women as his deputies. If an educated and intellectual man is taking a senior position, he always relies on professionals including women. Among deputy ministers, we already often meet women's names. For example, this is Elvira Nabiullina - Deputy Minister of Economy Development and Trade of the Russian Federation. She is a very interesting person - intellectual, very clever woman: participant of the authors' team of the Presidential Message, where many of her ideas have been used. Who knows about her? Who knew something about L.K. Kudelina until she was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation? We could continue this list. Mass media is nearly ignoring them. In spite of the fact that we are watching women's issues it is difficult for us as well to bring to the mass media materials, which we would like to present to the wide public, as I already said, we need to tell society about women leaders.
About partnership of the Ministry with public organizations
I consider the building of the partnership between power structures and non-governmental women's organizations as one of our most urgent goals.
Our Ministry is using several forms of partnership with non-governmental organizations. First, the round table of the women's non-governmental organizations exists by the Ministry. Approximately 100 organizations are actively participating in its work: once every two months we have meetings on urgent problems. By the way, it is one of the methods to let decision-makers know what women think about certain problems. Secondly, women participate in the work of Governmental Commissions. For example, we have Commission on Women's Issues by the Russian Federation Government, which is directed by V.I. Matvienko and women's organizations can participate in the work of this Commission sending there their representatives. I am Chairman of the Commission on Women's Issues by the Council of Federation. Two thirds of its participants are leaders of women's non-for-profit organizations. We actively use such a form of partnership as conclusion of agreements (so called social orders) between Ministry and non-governmental organizations. However, the most of them are on children's issues. In addition, such a form of partnership as joint conferences is very popular, where recommendations are made, which are presented on the governmental level and to the president of the Russian Federation.
About special features of the women's solidarity
Unfortunately, the technologies of the support of the women who work in power structures are not worked out in Russia yet. Nevertheless, I am sure that they will appear soon.
What do I think about the popular among women's organizations discussion on the introduction of gender quotation
Before I was against quotation: I always was independent and in general was successful at the elections and I thought that was enough. Nevertheless, after "dirty" technologies became routine, where financial issues, clan relations etc. play the key role, under all these conditions, introduction of quotas is just a must now. Therefore, the problem of quotas introduction stays very urgent right now because the situation changed dramatically. In the XXI century, we should revalue very much including the problem of quotas. Our society should become harmonious.