On the eve of the International Women’s Day, Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Federation Council, spoke about tasks and goals of the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum; involvement of women into politics, government control, and business; gender equality issues; and transformation of the International Women’s Day.  

The Second Eurasian Women’s Forum

Valentina Matvienko highlighted that topical issues connected with development of women’s business and enhancement of women’s role in economics would be the central topics of the Second EWF. She mentioned that delegations from 80 countries attended the First Forum and more are expected this year. The programme will take into account all aspects that concern women from all over the world. Thus, the promotion of humanitarian and charity projects led by women will be one of the Forum’s topics because 2018 is the Year of Volunteer in Russia. Valentina is sure that the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum will help women get true gender equality and create all the conditions needed for realisation of their skills and talents. 

Woman and power 

The Chairperson is sure that there are still serious problems connected with involvement of women into politics and government control in our country. Only 15% of the deputies of the State Duma are women, 18% in the Federation Council, and there are only three women in the Russian Government. According to Valentina Matvienko, the problem is connected with stereotypes peculiar for Russian culture. Many people are sure that a man must represent power. Now the situation is changing, the role of women increases in the politics as well as in the system of the state power. The Chairperson gave assurances that there is nothing that can prevent a woman from building a state career in the Russian political and legal system. We need to improve staff training in order to give more room in the politics for women. 

Woman and family 

Valentina Matvienko mentioned that for woman it is important to combine two aspects – family and career. Almost every woman has to decide this dilemma and they choose one of these aspects. The Chairperson thinks that the state and the society are able to solve this problem and give women an opportunity to combine family and career. Thus, there are only a few subjects of the RF, which have a problem of queues in the kindergartens. The development of digital technologies also helps women because they get an opportunity to work from home and regulate their schedule. Valentina Matvienko called upon the authorities to do everything possible for popularisation of flexible schedules. 

Gender equality issues 

Valentina Matvienko highlighted that there are still some problems to be solved. One of them is that employers refuse to hire women with little children. It is forbidden formally but one can come across it. It is important to not only improve the legal system but also involve the law enforcement. Gender pay gap is another problem. The Chairperson assured that Russia fights this problem and had already reached certain success in this field. Thus, the average salary of women was 60% of the men’s salary. Now it is 74%. 

Woman and business 

Valentina Matvienko is sure that creating good conditions for involvement of women into business sphere is a very important aspect. The Federation Council assists the increase of women activities in the sphere of entrepreneurship. Many programmes that help businesswomen were developed. The Chairperson mentioned that it is professionality, education, and business potential that help women achieve great success in the business sphere. 

International Women’s Day 

Our interlocutress thinks that the holiday has changed due to change of women’s role. It has become less politicised and more heartful, joyful, and humane. Men and women have equal rights in Russia and majority of countries. The Chairperson reminded that Russia contributed greatly to this process because the Constitution of RSFSR proclaimed gender equality in 1918. Valentina Matvienko mentioned that the issue of increasing the role of women in the society is still of top-priority for Russia. 

Valentina Matvienko congratulated all women of our country: “We, Russian women, have every reason to consider the 8th of March as a holiday, not a symbol of struggle. I am sure that love, maternity, family, children, and peace are the values that have a fundamental importance for women. Dear women! I give my warm congratulations to you. I wish you love, success, joy, and happiness!” 

Anastasia Tsukanova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Yan Zarubin