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  • 22

    The transnational politics of women’s rights and northwest Russia. The case of Nordic-Russian cooperation

    Advanced seminar arranged by the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Speaker: Yulia Gradskova, Södertörn University
    Chair: Helene Carlbäck, Södertörn University
    Discussant: Emil Edenborg,Södertörn University

    The presentation explores how the ideas and policies connected to gender equality were received by different regional actors such as women’s organizations, subregional and local authorities, and institutions for law enforcement and the protection of rights. In examining the local dimension I connect my analysis to the practices of transnational cooperation as well as to the changing all-Russian political context. In particular, I pay attention to the role played by the memories on the Soviet politics of “equality between men and women” and  by the ideas on civil organizations as the “third sector.” The presentation also shows the conflicting  interpretations of gender equality in Russian context.

    I hope that my study helped to recover broad activism for women’s rights and gender equality from the 1990s that got to be “forgotten” in authoritarian accounts of history in Putin’s Russia. At the same time, my focus on agency and on actors also contributed to show quite a complex picture of interests and reasons for involvement into work for gender equality that many cooperation partners in northwest Russia (first of all, the civil servants on the level of particular cities and districts) had. All the voluntary and state organizations and individuals underwent transformations in the process of cooperation around institutionalization of gender equality, and many acquired a broader awareness of gendered power in the world and in Russia. With the growth of  authoritarian tendencies in Russian society in the late 2000s, many of those involved in cooperation and supported the values and institutions of gender equality were forced to make difficult choices. As a result, many organizations and civil servants moved towards a simplified version of “women’s rights” that was closer to the Soviet defense of the rights of mothers.

    The presentation is based on a part of the chapter on Russia in a recently published book: by Eva Blomberg, Yulia Gradskova, Ylva Waldemarson, Alina Žvinklienė Gender Equality on a Grand Tour. Politics and Institutions – the Nordic Council, Sweden, Lithuania and Russia (Brill 2017). The book explores the politics  around the establishment, development and transformation of gender equality institutions in the Nordic countries (on the example of Sweden), in the former communist countries east of the Baltic Sea region (the example of Lithuania) and in the northwestern part of Russia.

    Time and place

    When: 22/01/18 at 13:00-14:30

    What: Higher seminar

    Where: Room MA 796, CBEES, Södertörn University, Campus Flemingsberg

    Organiser: The Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University

    Event language: English