”We need time to rebuilt the mentality of Russian men on European manner”, said the governor of St. Petersburg Valentina Matvienko, the first female governor in Russia.
Ms. Matvienko discussed the issues of gender with the head of the British delegation in St. Petersburg Prince Michael of Kent. The guests from Great Britain were interested in gender issues much as Britain would encounter reforms soon and the special quote for women and minorities would be introduced in the Chamber of Lords of British Parliament.
As Russia joined the Council of Europe, Europeans are watching if Russia follows its obligations given upon joining this organization. Formally, Russia observes the basic principles of the European declarations on human rights. In particular, Russia introduced the moratorium for death penalty. However, the Council of Europe is not satisfied as the moratorium should become the law, and some other laws should be adopted and abided in Russia as well to comply with the European standards.
As for the gender equality, the bill “On the state guarantees of rights and freedoms of men and women and equal opportunities for their realization”. The bill was elaborated three years ago, in 2001 he was adopted in the first edition by the Duma, and its final version has not been adopted yet, but is still discussed in the Duma commissions. Remarkably, not only the Duma deputies, but also human rights activists disagree with certain statements of the bill.
The idea to encourage the society and the state authorities to change their approach to the issues of gender was encouraged by the deputies and experts, but the ways to implement this approach was questioned. The proposed quote for the legislative bodies (maximum of 70% of representatives of the same gender) was criticized for coming back to the Soviet “private” system of 15 percent of women minimum. Women in Russia constitute 53% of the voters, consequently they would elect the parliament with female majority if they wish. At the same time, in Russia the majority of such high-ranking group as judges, are women, and as a result the discriminatory practice to fathers exists during family legal disputes. The bill does not touch these issues and some other important ones. Meanwhile, women are granted some privileges by Russian Labor Code and some other basic documents, such as earlier retirement pay and no mandatory military service. The privileges were given to women to their having more opportunities for raising kids, meanwhile, birth rate has reduced greatly in the recent years in Russia.
The bill “On the state guarantees…” was mocked at by men who were remembering the fate of the “Women of Russia” Association which held some seats in Russian Parliament in 1995-1999 and was not re-elected later. Even women stopped voting for the “Women of Russia”. However, the new bill can initiate creating new female parties and associations again.
Some men say that if women want to be equal with men, they should have mandatory military service, equal working day and other duties, like men.
Valentina Matvienko replies to such criticism that in a course of time Russian men will change their outlook and will perceive women as their equal partners.