Date: Tue, 9 Dec 97 10:22:14 CST
What will be the outcome of the feminist revolution in the Russian State Duma?
By Elena Kotchkina, the Gender Expertise Project MCGS, 20 November 1997
Recently, the feminist revolution silently passed through the Russian State Duma. On Wednesday, November 19th, 1997, Communist Deputy Alevtina Aparina, the chair of the Duma Committee on Issues of Women, Family and Youth, introduced the Legal Framework on Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities/EREO(Conceptsia po obespecheniju ravnykh prav i ravnykh vozmojnostey mujschin i jenschin) to the Duma and this Legal Framework was approved by the State Duma.
The Legal Framework outlines legal strategies for achieving equal rights and opportunities for men and women. Although drafted by the Committee, these "conceptions" (as the strategies are known) incorporated recommendations made by women's non-governmental organizations. (Amy Caiazza and I shared our concerns about the conceptions in the article "A Women's Revolution in the Russian Duma?" This article was published in July, 1997 on the conference/e-mail mailing list <firstname.lastname@example.org> and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the magazine _Surviving Together_.) The unanswered question is whether the Russian government will find the financial resources to implement the Legal Framework's suggestions (for example, from the loans for social policy and reform given by the World Bank).
The Legal Framework will be published in December in a special issue of the Bulletin "Zakonodatel'stvo and Prava Jenschin" (Legislation and Women's Rights Newsletter). This newsletter is being produced by the Gender Expertise Project of MCGS in cooperation with the Women's Information Network (Tatiana Troinova), the Women's Resource Center/EPSY (Larisa Fedorova) and the Moscow Office of the Central and East European Law Initiative (CEELI) of the American Bar Association (Kristen Hansen). The first issue was devoted to International Women's Day (March '97) and second issue will be devoted to Reproductive Rights (November '97). An English language summary will be produced by CEELI. The Russian text of the Legal Framework should also be published in the newspaper "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" and in a special brochure produced by the State Duma. It will also be published, in some form, in the "Jurnal Gosudarstvo i Pravo" (the Journal of State and Law).
Unfortunately, the bill on reproductive rights was put down by Deputy Aparina ("It will not go through while I am here" ) and the domestic violence bill remains in draft form (there is a lot of hope it will go further). A piece of not so good news is that the Committee on Women, Family and Youth has suggested canceling all financial support for the family planning program (part of the Children of the Russian State Program). This is due to the reaction of the Communist faction to a scandal surrounding a sex education program for secondary schools. Inga Grebesheva, who is President of the Family Planning Association in Russia, insisted on keeping her distance from the sex education program and hs asked to be included into the prosecutor's investigation group that is analyzing the sex education program.
The Committee has asked us to present possible bills or amendments for the next year. Svetlana Polenina will work on electoral legislation and women's representation in executive branch of power. Someone will address amendments to the criminal code. Work on the domestic violence bill is ongoing. The Association of Ural Women will probably lobby on behalf of the bill on women's businesses. I envision that we, the Gender Expertise Project of MCGS, will continue to focus on pension reform, the labour code and restrictions on pornography through our contacts with the Social Policy Sub-Committee and Committee on Culture, etc.
The next event in Russian gender policy developments was the meeting of the RF Commission on Improving of the Status of Women (created after the 1995 Beijing conference), headed by the Deputy Vice-Minister Mr. Sysuev on Monday, 23 November 1997. The representatives of four women's organizations, Gender Expertise Project of MCGS, Women's Resource Center/EPSY-Center, Information Center of Independent Women's Forum, NIS/US Women's Consortium, met to discuss post-Beijing efforts and monitoring. Together, we prepared a list of questions for Deputy Vice-Minister Sysuev. Elena Ershova, of the NIS/US Women's Consortium, will deliver the list to him. The basic questions presented are: will there be any financial resources for implementation of the Post-Beijing Plan of Action; and is he going to help incorporate gender expertise into the drafting group for new labour code?
In December, January and February, project round-tables will present more in-depth analyses of Russian legal reform and gender expertise: Dr.Marina Baskakova will present on employment law; Dr. Elena Ballaeva will present on reproductive rights; Dr. Olga Voronina will speak at a round-table on the mass-media and pornography; and Dr. Natalia Kosmarskaia will present a round-table on migrant policy.
As always, we are happy to keep you informed and receive your requests and opinions.
The Gender Expertise Project is supported through PROWID, the International Center for Research on Women funded by USAID.