Tuesday 11 December 2018 | 07:06

Tatsiana Protska: One hundred years of the International Women’s Day – equal rights without equality

17.03.2017  |  Society   |  Piotr Kuchta,  EuroBelarus
Tatsiana Protska: One hundred years of the International Women’s Day – equal rights without equality

Instead of equal, women in Belarus became dependent on the state, they are more concerned with how to survive rather than gender issues, believes Tatsiana Protska, historian, human rights activist.

"Although the Sovietness of the of November 7 is clear and undeniable, March 8 is controversial," - expleined Tatsiana Protska, historian, human rights activist, organizer and the first chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee in her interview with the "EuroBelarus" Information Service. - The fact is that we have already forgotten the history of this holiday. At the beginning of the 20th century capitalist countries faced the problem of gender equality, and above all, political equality. Women were already allowed to work, but they couldn’t use their political rights. But why March the 8th? In 1917 on March 8 a major anti-monarchist protest in Petragrad took place, and it was the first time many working women joined it. In 1921, at the 2nd Communist Women's Conference, it was decided to celebrate the event of 1917 and establish an International Women's Day."

Tatsiana Protska reminds that the content of the holiday in Belarus has changed: "March 8 is no longer a revolutionary holiday, and our society is not concerned with any gender issues much. Rather we see sexual overtones here. As men sometimes say, "let women have a holiday at least once a year."

"There are two concepts: equal rights and equality. The situation with equal rights is better than with equality: despite the odious statements of Lydzia Yermoshina about the borsch and women’s role, political equality still exists in Belarus. With certain reservations there are also social and economic equality, - argued Tatsiana Protska. - But there is no equality. It is known, for example, that employers are not very willing to hire women during the crisis. It would seem that political equality must entail the emergence of true gender equality. But in Belarus everything is different. "

According to Tatsiana Protska, there are two kinds of civil activity of Belarusian women: "First one is stimulated and encouraged by the state, and the second one does not receive approval from the authorities. State-approved activities involve a lot of women, for example, election commissions comprised of almost women only, and social women's organizations." "This is the evidence of the dependence of women on the state, which is the very same Soviet legacy. If one hundred years ago in capitalist society a woman was attached to her husband, the Soviet state took a woman and tied it up economically. For example, what we see today is the Belarusian state benefits to mothers with several children: women receive benefits sometimes more substantial than the salary of their husbands. What is the day of the Belarusian woman? She goes to work by 8 o'clock, works 5, 6, sometimes 9 hours, spends time on the travelling home, if she has a child, she makes time to pick them up from the kindergarden or school. Next is cooking for whole family as our people do not eat out, it is traditionally the woman who cooks. At the weekend there are cleaning, laundry etc. There is no way we can speak of any equality under these conditions. And at the same there is the dependence on the state - if one member of the family loses their job, then the income of the other one will not be enough for whole family to get by. In general, being a woman in Belarus is not particularly joyful," - concluded Tatsiana Protska.

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