On the eve of the Second All-Russian Women’s Congress, the UN Interagency Thematic Group on Gender in the Russian Federation and the “Institute of Social and Gender Policy” Foundation bring to your attention the book, “Monitoring Women’s Rights in Russian Federation: Thousand of Women’s Stories” prepared on the basis of the competition of the same name conducted in 2006-2007. Here you can familiarize yourself with expert analysis of the effectiveness of state institutions and mechanisms on provision of women’s rights, role of women’s organizations and gender aspects of many aspects of life in Russia today. The reports were prepared on the results of materials of monitoring the status of women conducted in the framework of the following projects:

- «Women write to Duma»
Soboleva, I. (Moscow)
- «Survival highway»
Scheglova, N. (Miass)
- «The right to be a mother»
Rovnova, E. (Samara)
- «Kindergarten: the way out of situation or the source of problems»
Ilyina, M. (Saint-Petersburg)
- «Violations of labor and social rights of women in enterprises and organizations in Kostomuksha»
Lopatkina, А. (Kostomuksha)
- «Cases of discrimination against HIV-positive pregnant women and mothers»
Matveeva, S. ((Saint-Petersburg)
- «Women and disability: discrimination and the overcoming experiences»
Yarskaya-Smirnova, Е. (Saratov)
- «Discrimination against women in social-labour relations»
Olshanskaya, О. (Moscow)
- «Women on the labour market in Russia in the beginning of 2000»
Tchadova, Т. (Moscow)
- «Gender issues of informal employment in Russia»
Burnyshev, К. (Novokuznetsk)
- «The problem of poverty in single mother families»
Mashkova, Е. (Naverezhnye Chelny)
- «The promotion of women’s rights in Belorechensky District, Krasnodar Province»
Kuznetsova, Е. (Belorechensky District, Krasnodar Province)
- «That’s how we live …»
Semenenko, А. (Stavropol)
- «Live voice of a rural woman”
Shabalina, N. (Barnaul)

Scholars’, gender experts analyzed the materials in three dimensions: employment, health care and social status. Besides, inside of each thematic block you can find the stories proper about how our fellow women live, work and bring up children in different regions of the country.

It’s hard, and at times impossible, to combine work and bringing up children for majority of women.

In recent years, budget allocation for supporting maternity and childhood considerably grew up. Nevertheless, they are catastrophically behind the growth of prices for housing, facilities, kindergartens, educational institutions and other socially significant spheres of life. Women are often subjects of discrimination from the part of employers, their incomes generally lower than those of men. All working women, irrespectively of the nature of work, see low salaries as the main problem. Women have to search for ways out having smaller choice of available jobs, when there is an acute lack of child care facilities. That is why the solution of feminization of poverty problem requires focused and special approach from the part of the state. Besides, women often comprise the majority of workers in informal employment, i.e. more often work without social and medical insurance, that impacts the way of life of the woman and her family. The specifics of women’s labour is combining professional duties with parental duties. Projects’ stories illustrate the conflict of working mother clearly.

But, care about working mothers and their children from the part of the state is so insufficient, and salaries of the working most often are such incompatible with the basket of goods cost, that, in fact, half of the families who still decide to have two children and work extremely hard, get to the category of poor anyway. Among many consequences of hidden poverty in the sphere of health it can be noted that half of mothers-to-be in Russia have low level of haemoglobin, resulted from poor nutrition. National health care project provides for better accessibility and higher level of medical services, but it is far from any substantial changes for better yet. With other things being equal, women have to spend more on the indices of the most significant services. Respectively, taking into account the special features of women’s poverty and the trend of direct participation of population in financing health care, it is difficult so far to say about equal access of men and women to health care services. Moreover, it is necessary to pay attention to the discrimination of disabled women and HIV positive mothers. Form the book, you will learn about specific features of the situation with these and other vulnerable groups and existing policies towards them in the field of health care.

As for social status of women, experts note the importance of putting this issue on the agenda by the state proper. Thus, “majority of legislators, both at federal and regional levels, consider support to women as “social protection of maternity and reproductive rights” and not as “creation of conditions for labor and professional activities, promotion of women and providing equal opportunities”. As for the existing mechanisms of liquidation of discrimination, their nature is often just advisory and not obligatory. Along with the absence of public discussion about gender discrimination, there is no action plan on the advancement of women. These factors limit women’s rights to participate in public and political life guaranteed in Russian Federation. Combined with “low living standards, low income, having children, absence of descent work, and facing numerous everyday problems”, it witness, once more, about the need in special support from the part of the state for the achievement of actual gender equality.

This book contributed to the preparation of the combined 6th and 7th periodical official report of Russian Federation about the implementation of obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Russia.

Hope “Thousand of women’s stories” will interest you and you will take part in further discussion!

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