Communism claims to have emancipated woman and provided her with an equal place in society, not only with equal rights but also with equal opportunities. At the First International Conference for the Decade of Women, held in Mexico City under the auspices of the United Nations, the East Bloc delegates (some of them wives of heads of state) all claimed that women in their countries were already liberated, therefore, not women's rights but world peace and disarmament ought to be the key topics of discussion. 1
The "achievements" in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries have been noted with admiration in many Western nations, but more so in the Third World, which has accepted Soviet propaganda at face value. The Communist countries have made disinformation into a science, and seeing that the status of women in most Third World countries has been so utterly subordinate and lacking in opportunities (in Ethiopia fewer than I percent of women are literate), the position of women in the Soviet Union, relatively speaking, is indeed close to paradise. The same Soviet propaganda, so readily, and naively, accepted by educational institutions and politicians in the Scandinavian and other western states, has also suggested that women in the Soviet Union were better off than women in the West. The reality, for various reasons, has been slow to dawn, though a decade ago prominent Western researchers already debunked the myth of the "glory of Soviet womanhood." As political scientist and Sovietologist Barbara Jancar pointed out in her comparative, interdisciplinary study of women in the Communist world, Westerners have only had carefully selected impressions and incomplete knowledge upon which to base their opinions.
While Communist regimes may be useful vehicles for the emancipation of women in societies in the initial stages of industrialization, said Jancar, severe and permanent ideological and political strictures inhibit women's further advance. She found that sexual stereotyping and all its consequences exist in Communist nations as well. Women are primarily unskilled or semi-skilled workers. Women do become medical doctors in greater percentages than in the West, she said, but she pointed out that medicine in the Communist world enjoys much less prestige and even within the medical profession in the East Bloc there is male-female stratification. Hungarian women doctors, she discovered, could not aspire to become gynecologists or urologists because these carried more prestige and male entrance quotas are much higher than for women. In other branches of society, she said, few women reach positions of executive