JOAN KURIANSKY ADVOCATING THE INTERESTS OF WOMEN
Joan Kuriansky is a person embodying such qualities as non-indifference and steadfastness. She has never stepped back from what she believes in. Ms. Kuriansky devoted almost all her life to achieving the independence of women. She worked hard as the Executive Director of Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) to help American women make success and achieve economic stability. Then she joined the Older Women’s League (OWL) organisation and solved sharp social issues of women aged over 40. She tried to address such problems as retirement age issues, poor healthcare and labour conditions, and violence against women. Joan Kuriansky served on President Clinton’s Advisory Council on Violence Against Women between 1995 and 2001.
In addition to public activities, Ms. Kuriansky is engaged in research work. She is a holder of a J.D. from the University of Virginia and a master's degree in urban affairs from Occidental College. She serves as a research associate at the Income Security Committee of the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI).
However, Joan Kuriansky sees her vocation in changing the status of women in the world. She is the Ex-President of the American Association of University Women who works hard to expand women’s opportunities so as they could fully realise their potential. Ms. Kuriansky cooperates with public figures from other countries and jointly with them solves important issues. For example, in 1994, she visited Russia several times to meet political leaders, scientists, and heads of organisations and team up to ensure the protection of women’s interests and rights.
Despite the sanctions, she visited the First Eurasian Women’s Forum in 2015. That event took place in Saint Petersburg and brought together representatives of 80 countries. “I am glad to take part in the Eurasian Women’s Forum in Saint Petersburg because it is another opportunity for me to meet women leaders from all over the world, discuss our plans, understand problems they have in their lives and societies they live in”, she said when interviewed by the Izvestia newspaper. According to Ms. Kuriansky, women can influence greatly the situation in the world and cause global changes.
She expressed the same idea when meeting with Valentina Matvienko. Together with Sarah Harder, Ms. Kuriansky’s American colleague, they discussed troubled relationship between Russia and the USA and tried to find ways to improve them. According to Valentina Matvienko, it is impossible to patch up relations between politicians, but it is real to find a common language between the two peoples. “We, women, must do everything for our two peoples to live in peace and harmony. I have been to the USA for many times and know that people there want peace too. Unfortunately, politicians rarely listen to our opinion”, said the senator. Joan Kuriansky was advising the Presidential Administration. However, she is not sure that such work could actually affect decision-making.
She said Russia had a lot to learn from the USA, for example, democracy. However, as she mentioned, the USA has a lot to learn from Russia too, for instance, readiness to changes and the ability to learn quickly. Ms. Kuriansky stressed that Russian women had been among the first in the world to declare their equality with men and to pave the way to higher education and scientific activity. The USA experienced the same trends but only 10-15 years after that. Joan Kuriansky expressed her respect to cooperation of outstanding women and such projects as the Eurasian Women’s Forum. “We are Russia’s friends. When we got an invitation, we decided at once that we would go there to the Forum”, she said.
Joan Kuriansky and Valentina Matvienko have known each other for many years. In 1990, together with Sarah Harder, they organised the first Soviet-American Summit of Women Leaders. They met again 25 years after that and expressed their hopes that that wouldn’t be their last encounter as well.
Marina Kachkalova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov