The New Elite in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Christopher Vanderpool et al. | Go to book overview

21
Women in the New Russian Elite

Tatiana Marchenko

Russia appears to be a matriarchy on the surface, but the matriarchal tendencies are actually latent and distorted. As a rule, women are decision makers, but they do not occupy the main seats of power, positions ascribed to men by the features of Russian history and welfare practices. Russia is a Eurasian country, both geographically and culturally. Traditionally, Russian women are obedient and apparently accepting of a whole host of unequal and discriminatory relations. Throughout Russian history, there has been an absence of support for women's equality.

In the USSR, an official government policy supported the participation of women in public and political spheres. In all areas of authority, quotas were implemented so that women across social and class lines could be represented. It would be false, however, to consider women as members of the elite. The female "pseudoelite" had very little if any real power in the decision-making processes and did not influence society. In the economy, women have not been leaders in the past except in "female" areas of the economy such as the light industry and trade.

With the introduction of perestroika, the state ceased to support women's participation in government, causing a considerable drop in the number of women holding political office. From 1980 to 1985, women comprised 35 percent of the Supreme Soviet. Following the 1990 elections, however, they accounted for only 8.9 percent. Today, only 5.3 percent of all national deputies are women. 1 What is happening? Are women being superseded by men who are stronger, more qualified, and more determined? Perhaps women are simply "giving

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