Democratic Reform and the Position of Women in Transitional Economies

Democratic Reform and the Position of Women in Transitional Economies

Democratic Reform and the Position of Women in Transitional Economies

Democratic Reform and the Position of Women in Transitional Economies

Synopsis

Exploring the effects of the post-1989 developments in Eastern and Central Europe on the social and economic position of the women of the region, Valentine Moghadam explains how the economic crisis and subsequent development, social breakdown, and changing institutions and practices of the state have an impact upon women's roles and status. The volume combines a theoretical analysis of fundamental gender specific issues and empirical studies on aspects such as educational attainment, social security provisions, political representation, and level and type of employment. Several papers use comparative analysis, drawing on previous research into women's position during development in the Third World, and under socialism in the years prior to 1989. Countries covered in empirical case studies are Russia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech and Slovak republics, the former East Germany, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The authors draw the conclusion that women are among the principal losers in the restructuring process, both through the rise in conservative cultures, and through the economic imperatives of competing in a market-based system.

Excerpt

The subject-matter dealt with in this book explores the implications of political and economic reform in the former state socialist countries with its main focus on gender-related issues. the chapters encapsulate the discussions and findings of a research conference that took place at wider in September 1991, organized by the book's editor, wider Senior Researcher Val Moghadam. the questions pursued in those discussions covered a range of issues affecting the socio-economic and political status of women as a result of the ongoing process of reform in the former communist countries. the transition from a centrally planned system to a market-determined economy involves a painful adjustment process, especially in the short and medium terms. Before the reform process began, the centrally planned economies were notable for the relatively favourable position held by women in the matter of employment. Not only is the adjustment process resulting in substantial unemployment among the unskilled and semi-skilled of the working population--with the result that a larger proportion of women in the labour force are being deprived of their earnings in the short run--but highly educated women seem to be losing jobs as well.

This book critically reviews the process of economic reform and democratization in country-specific situations and highlights the consequent plight of women and other vulnerable sections of the population. Several chapters address the issue of women, employment, and social policies in Hungary, Bulgaria, East Germany, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland, and Russia; while others deal with the question of women and politics. One chapter compares and contrasts economic reform in the former state socialist countries with structural adjustment in developing countries.

Now that the process is well under way and is an irreversible fact, can the rigours of its impact be mitigated through remedial measures? Can the provision of a general safety net, to take care of the situation arising out of the transitional unemployment, adequately meet the problems faced by the more vulnerable sections of the labour force and particularly women? What would be the international resource transfer implications of such policies? Will the dismantling of the old quota system guaranteeing a certain proportion of political representation to women lead to a decline in female participation in the process of governance in countries like the former Soviet Union? the research reported here seeks to answer these and other related questions in terms of the national, regional, and global contexts.

The study of economic reform in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union constituted a theme of a comprehensive WIDER-sponsored project on the transformation of centrally . . .

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