Women’s Forum in Men’s Region
Outcome of the ‘Role of Women in Developing Industrial Regions’ forum in Novokuznetsk
There are formal signs of success of the event, which are fixed in official documents. The forum in Kuzbass was great, however, we will return to that later. Now I would like to tell about something that is difficult to formalize and present as a report despite that information is very important.
The women’s forum in Kuzbass was held with the support of strong men. The main start to that was given by President Vladimir Putin’s address at the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum.
Let’s go back to the very start. Valentina Matvienko proposed to conduct the Eurasian Women’s Forum in Saint Petersburg. As a competent policy maker, she understood that women had huge potential that wasn’t properly used in Russia and worldwide. There were many sceptics. Some people didn’t find that necessary to divide the problems according to gender, the rest expected that the Forum would be the meeting of representatives of radical movements. That is why it was extremely important to appropriately arrange accents. Valentina Matvienko and Galina Karelova who were responsible for organisation of the large-scale international event managed to do that successfully.
In 2015, Saint Petersburg hosted the First Eurasian Women’s Forum, which brought together representatives from 80 countries including the leading European states, the USA, Latin America, and Africa. Marina Volynkina and I were the participants of this truly amazing event.
Women from different countries and regions of Russia were surprised by the fact that they were heard and people wanted to listen to them. They included both those who acquired great recognition for their achievements and those whose creative and diligent work remained neglected by media and society. Thus, women got a platform where they wanted to express all their concerns.
However, not all of them managed to do that over the two days of the Forum. The number of wonderful people implementing interesting projects, ideas, and initiatives in Russia and other countries impressed us. At that time, we understood that women acutely needed a constantly operating platform for communication. Then we decided to launch the Eurasian Women’s Community web-portal.
The first Forum may be called the starting point of the international women’s movement. Every participant learned much from that event but the main thing, as it seemed to me, was that everyone wanted to speak out.
The next step was ‘Women's Dialogue. Infinity Charity’ International Forum held in Ufa in spring 2016 organised by Galina Karelova and Lilia Gumerova. That was a brilliant event that brought together wonderful women from all over Russia and other countries. The official and unofficial results of the event were only positive.
This forum ascended to the next level: the participants wanted not only to express their ideas but also listen to others, share their experience, and borrow new ideas and methods. The event brought together women overfilled with energy and love. Some of them started doing charity after experiencing a personal drama and having the desire to help people in the same situation. Some, on the opposite, were happy enough and due to that wanted to share their love, and energy with the needy. I would call this event the ‘forum of kindness and experience exchange’.
Last autumn, there was the brilliant Second Eurasian Women’s Forum. It was great in terms of participants inclusion and their number, organisation, and atmosphere. Women leaders in different fields of activity entered the organising committee headed by Valentina Matvienko and Galina Karelova. Right priorities helped the Forum to make one more step upwards: the participants strived to not only speak out, listen to others, and share opinions, but also unite in order to address a wide range of relevant tasks. The event caused delighted, inspired, and gave the joy of communicating with like-minders.
One extremely significant event took place at the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum. That was the address of Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. The visit of first person of the state uplifts the official status of the event and that is easy to understand. However, how can we explain that excitement caused by his speech?
The participants were all over President Putin for half an hour. The most popular music stars having crowds of fans would envy that. Even those participants who had serious political disagreements with Vladimir Putin were happy to shake hands and take a picture with him. I have my own explanation of that: women from all over the world considered the President’s visit as a sign and were grateful for that message.
The thing is that despite all success and achievements of women other people often approach to them in a condescending manner. This attitude is similar to ‘wow, look at that, women can do that too’. Another model presupposes equal attitude to all people irrespective of gender factor. Vladimir Putin managed to choose the right one and it was clearly seen that it was his personal position. One could feel that not only from his words but also from the message of the President between the lines.
My understanding of his message is the following: “I highly value and respect women as equal partners greatly contributing to our common business. At the same time, I want to put them all on a pedestal and surround with care, attention, and love. I would like to do everything in order women could feel safe and comfortable. Then our joint work will bring not only fruitful results but also pleasure and moral satisfaction”.
I don’t know exactly when Sergey Tsivilyov, Governor of the Kemerovo Oblast, and his wife Anna Tsivilyova, Head of the Guardianship Council of the Kemerovo Oblast, had the idea to conduct an international forum in Kuzbass. However, I believe that this decision was much influenced by the President’s address as well.
As Valentina Matvienko said in her video message to participants of the forum in Novokuznetsk, Kuzbass has always been considered as men’s region. This is understandable due to the region’s coal, metal, machinery, and energy industries, which are male-dominated. However, the international women’s forum was suddenly announced.
It was more difficult for many foreign participants to get to the centre of Russia than to capitals of other states. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop anyone.
The organisers foresaw reproaches from critics and decided not to use money out of the budget but to attract sponsors. They kept their promise.
In addition, the organisers chose the optimum time to conduct the forum. Holding it on the eve of International Women’s Day was a beautiful. In addition, six months has already passed since the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum in Saint Petersburg. The forum’s inspiration hasn’t been fully spent but there are first results of practical actions on implementation of the outcome resolution adopted in Saint Petersburg. Short time for preparing such a large-scale event for the first time was confusing. However, everything worked out great.
Video live coverage of the plenary and 9 other sessions was organised for the first time. 1222 platforms for watching live stream and stating suggestions for the outcome resolution were organised in the Kemerovo Oblast. As a result, thousands of people not only watched the video but also shared their ideas, comments, and advice to be included in the outcome resolution. Our website also provided live streams and textual live coverage of several platforms.
Upwards of 70 articles were published within 2 days.
The forum took place in a ‘male’ region. For the first time, there were men among its organisers: Sergey Tsivilyov, Governor of the Kemerovo Oblast, and Sergey Kuznetsov, Mayor of Novokuznetsk. Deputy Chairperson of the Federation Council Galina Karelova in her closing remarks mentioned that interesting fact. She invited all male leaders to follow the example of Kuzbass men. Senator Ekaterina Lakhova noted that it was pleasure for her to watch the Governor and his spouse work. We also enjoyed watching the beautiful family united by their interests and ideas supporting and complementing each other. Those beautiful, smart, and sincere people strive to make the life of Kuzbass better. Tsivilyovs is the model of the ideal family, which is an unfortunately rare breed within public space. Today, we often watch scandals and other negative manifestations of family life on TV. However, young people need positive role models to follow.
The Tsivilyovs family is based on sincere love that can’t be hidden. We could understand that from the way Sergey Tsivilyov looked at Anna Tsivilyova while she walked towards the platform. We could feel that he supports and loves his wife and is proud of her. In her eyes, in turn, we could see special calmness and confidence of a women loved that could easily be distinguished from any other emotions. They were always ready to help each other in any way possible. They had enough love and care to share with all the participants of the forum.
In his interview with the EWC journalists, Sergey Kuznetsov, Mayor of Novokuznetsk, said that he personally reviewed the hotels for compliance to the guests’ visit and was pleased. Then he sent his female staff for them to asses them from women’s perspective. They came back with a list of necessary improvements. This male desire to foresee and succeed in everything was felt and highly assessed by all the participants. We were met and seen of with flowers, we attended a concert by Tamara Gverdtsiteli, and watched a beautiful performance based on Evgeniy Grishkovets play. We reveled that love and care, charged with positive energy, and worked beyond our limits.
It is even more important that the forum placed right emphases in understanding of our activities. We were often asked: “Why is that women’s forum? Are you against men?”
No, we aren’t. We do not turn down their support. We enjoy their love and care. We do not unite against someone. We unite for the common cause of peace, development, and well-being. We understood that women can achieve much in career and public activity. By doing that, they become happier. It is for the common good.
Why do I describe that in so much detail? The reason is that it is now important to generate and convey our live in the broadest meaning of this word. Women from all over the world left Novokuznetsk filled with love towards Kuzbass, Russia, and the common activity of the international women’s movement. They carried that feeling to share it with others. I believe, this is the most right and pleasant way to achieve peace and prosperity worldwide.
Now let’s go back to the official results of the forum. Over 2.5 thousand delegates from 15 countries and 39 regions of Russia attended the forum. They were representatives of federal and regional authorities, international public organisations, major companies alongside with scientists and entrepreneurs. Deputy Chairperson of the Federation Council Galina Karelova and Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Gulnaz Kadyrova personally contributed to preparing and holding the forum. Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Oleg Salagay, Deputy Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation, Aleksey Cherkasov, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation, Fatou Haidara (Republic of Mali), the Managing Director of UNIDO Policy and Programme Support, Mi-young Han (South Korea), President of World Women Inventors & Entrepreneurs Association, Purnima Anand (India), President of the BRICS International Forum, Eunice Aparecida Da Cruz (Brazil), International Federation of Business and Professional Women Brazil President, and others took part in the forum.
1222 platforms provided online live coverage of the sessions. Thousands of the region’s citizens could watch this huge event online.
An expert session ‘BRICS: Economic Agenda for Inclusive Growth in the Digitalisation Era’ took place as part of the forum. All BRICS countries were present. The children’s forum took place alongside UCMAS Mental Arithmetic Championship. Besides, several important agreements were signed. Thus, trilateral treaty was signed among the Guardianship Council of the Kemerovo Oblast, ‘Sergey Belogolovtsev’s DreamSki Centre of Social Help and Adaptation for People with Cerebral Palsy and Other Disabilities’, and ‘SUEK to Regions Foundation of Regional Socioeconomic Support’. The certificate for acquisitions of 82 pianos for children art schools in Kuzbass was delivered to Sergey Tsivilyov by Olga Golodets.
Topics of discussion were: the role of women in industrial development, improving city space, protection of women's health, digital equality, the development of cultural-educational and museum complexes, and the development of civil society institutions.
Tatyana Vorozhtsova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov