|International Visions and Local Practices of Gender Equality: Challenges, Problems and Activism in the North-West Region of Russia|
|This presentation is dedicated to analysis of discourses and practices connected to gender equality on example of the situation in Russia in 1991-2009. In the first part of my presentation I am going to review contemporary discussions on gender equality’s implementation and its contradictions and difficulties. The main part of the presentation is dedicated to closer analysis of the situation around gender equality and women’s activism in the North-West region of the Russian Federation. The North-West Russia is well developed region where women’s activism is very visible and where many cooperation programs between local administration and NGOs on the one side, and EU, Nordic and US organizations and foundations on the other side, were realized under the studied period. Thus, in my presentation I am looking at political, social and discursive contexts where international as well as local organizations promoting “gender equality” and “women’s interests” were acting. The presentation is based on my research as a part of the collective project – “Gender discrimination and human rights – altered relations among international organs, collectives and individuals from a Nordic and Eastern European perspective 1980-2008” supported by the Baltic Sea Foundation (Sweden). The source material for my study are documents on international cooperation with respect to gender equality, reports of the human rights commissioners from the region as well documents of the local women’s organizations and interview materials.
On the base of the studied sources it is possible to see that the application of policies of the “gender equality” in the North-West Russia met complex set of problems. These problems include lack of public discussion about benefits and negative effects of the Soviet “gender equality’s” project, lack of the development of civil society, lack of state’ (and many organizations for defence of human rights) interests in gender equality, as well as lack of money and lack of the public awareness about dimensions of inequality. At the same time, collected material shows that due to its proximity to the European borders, collaborative efforts of international, European and American organizations as well as work of the local NGOs, the awareness of the local authorities and wider population with respect to gender inequality in the region is bigger than in many other regions of the Russian Federation. In spite of the many problems that appeared in the process of cooperation between local organization and organizations and institutions abroad, their activity could be seen as slowly bringing some success and change. Interviews with the local activists showed at the same time, that the region is far from the creation of the resilient system for dealing with gender inequality, while success in this work frequently is connected to individual efforts or special sources of influence of some NGOs and their activists.|