Russian Women Seek
Russian women have
never had it so bad, representatives of Russian women's
groups said in May at a meeting set up to address women's
issues. The parliament meeting was attended by
representatives of over 100 groups. Several hundred male
politicians were invited, but only four chose to attend.
Those who did attend denounced the post-Soviet,
pro-corporate free-market for eating away at
womens wages and for turning politics into a
men-only club. The female politicians
unveiled measures designed to restore the position of
women, which they said had plummeted since Communist
"Women were the victims of the reform years,"
said First Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska, one of the few
female elected officials in Russia. She said that women
have been relegated to low paying, subservient positions,
leaving them vulnerable economically, and without a
strong political voice. Market reforms and high inflation
had forced more women than men out of the workplace
despite an often superior standard of education.
Yekaterina Lakhova, head of the Women of Russia political
party, proposed changes such as a legally enforceable
minimum wage. But without the support of male
politicians, change is nearly impossible. Women occupy
only 29 seats, or 16 percent, of the Duma's 450 seats.
The old Communist quota system secured nearly one third
of those seats for women. Lakhova called Russian politics
a "closed shop." Only two women now hold high
political offices: Valentina Matviyenko, a cabinet member
as a deputy prime minister, and Tatyana Paramonova, first
deputy head of the central bank.
(source: Reuters, May 22)
Zone: Male-Free Shopping
Women in the United
Arab Emirates now have a male-free mall. "The She
Zone," located in Abu Dhabi, offers privacy in a
public setting for women and their children. Among the 32
outlets are a mosque, a cinema, a gym, a business center,
a perfumery, a chocolate shop, and a video arcade--and
all the jobs are done by women. Maintenance or emergency
services that must be done by male employees are done
after hours or with ample warning to the clientele.
According to Islamic tradition, women who wear a veil
reveal their faces only to men in their immediate family.
The mall provides them the privacy and freedom to go
unencumbered without violating this tradition.
Arab men have long enjoyed malls as a place to
congregate, drink coffee, and see friends. Women can now
enjoy the same pleasantries. Although the UAE is very
liberal, women-only facilitates are frequently set up for
conservative Moslem women. One visitor stated,
Its good for the traditional ladies who don't
go out much, as they can come here with their kids and
meet their friends and feel as if they are at home."
(source: Reuters, May 22)