Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Balancing Work, Family Life, and Retirement in Russia: Part 1

Our Economic Security Initiative intern, Alla, will be a guest blogger for the next four weeks. As a native of Russia, she will be sharing her thoughts on economic security in Russia across generations. Here is her first post introducing the role of women in Russia. Look for her subsequent posts each Wednesday.

Women in Russia: Soviet Background

One of the most recognized features of the Russian social system is that it is based on the remnants of the Soviet system. After the Revolution of 1917, Russia became one of the first countries in the world to declare the equality of both sexes; moreover, Russia was the first country to start implementing social policies that sought to establish equal conditions and opportunities for women.

During the Soviet period, employment rates among women were close to 100%; this was made possible by a federally funded social system with generous employee benefits (such as paid sick and family leaves) and universal provision of public institutions, such as schools and pre-school organizations. However, things have changed dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Throughout the 1990’s, due to Russia’s painful transition from a socialist to a capitalist economy, unemployment rates were high and economic insecurity was severe for both men and women.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was a major social upheaval that substantially shaped the state of Russia’s modern-day society. This makes it difficult to compare present-day Russia to the United States. Nevertheless, fascinating similarities surface, particularly concerning women’s issues and intergenerational economic security.

This post marks the first a four-part series exploring how issues related to the workplace flexibility, family self-sufficiency and elder economic security play out in Russia’s political and social systems and how WOW’s efforts to promote economic security across the generations is impacting policy conversations internationally.

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