Women's Activism in Contemporary Russia

Linda Racioppi and Katherine O'Sullivan See
Book Cover

PB: $36.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-521-2
Publication: Jun 97

HC: $85.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-520-5
Publication: Jun 97

Ebook: $36.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0883-9
Publication: Jun 97

277 pages
5.5 x 8.25

A penetrating look at the experiences of women activists and their organizations in Russia since perestroika


Through in-depth interviews with activists, the authors provide a broad and thorough introduction to the emerging women's movement and women's organizations in Russia. The focus is on the development of women's activism in late Soviet and post-Soviet Russia and the challenges for activists in a time of resurgent nationalism and turmoil over democratic reform.

Linda Racioppi and Katherine O'Sullivan See present a concise history of women's situation in tsarist and Soviet Russia, which shows how their ability to organize was constrained by social strictures and state policies. They also analyze how the state-sponsored Soviet Women's Committee and new groups like the Independent Women's Forum, the Women's League, and the International Institute for Entrepreneurial Development responded to the challenges and opportunities of the transition. The authors examine the dynamics among these groups as well. The personal life histories of the activists reflect the ways women have responded to the changing political, economic, and social landscape in the former Soviet Union.


"For the student of social movements in general and women's movements in particular, the value of this book is in the diversity of groups and activists studied and the richness of detail. The variety of activists, ideologies, and organizational origins is striking.... Racioppi and O'Sullivan See have provided an important introduction to the study of Russian women's activism in the reform and post-communist periods, and anyone hoping to develop a more theoretical account would do well to start with this book."

"Linda Racioppi and Katherine O'Sullivan See have given us a model book on contemporary activism.... this is an ideal book for students in courses on post-communism or contemporary Russia—or for anyone with an interest in these topics."
Labor History

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Women‘s Activism in Historical Context
Tsarist Autocracy and Constraints on Women’s Activism • The Soviet Order • Elvira Novikova

3. Three Women and the Transition
Economic and Political Transformations • Women and the Economy • Women and Political Voice • Organizing Women as Politics • Alternative “Emancipations” • Natalia Belokopytova • The State and Ideological Emancipation

4. The Union of Women of Russia and Alevtina Fedulova
The Soviet Women’s Committee • The Committee and the Transition • Alevtina Fedulova

5. The Zhensovety and Ol’ga Bessolova
Zhensovety • Ol’ga Bessolova

6. The Center for Gender Studies, the Independent
Women’s Forum, and Anastasia Posadskaya • The Center for Gender Studies • Anastasia Posadskaya

7. The Women’s League, Gaia, and Elena Ershova
The Women’s League • Gaia • Elena Ershova

8. Business and Economic Development Organizations
The Transition and Economic Organizing • Conversion and Women and Eleanora Ivanova • The Association of Small Towns and Tatiana Tsertsvadze • The International Institute for Entrepreneurial Development and Leah Lerner • Economic Organizations and the Women’s Movement

9. Interpreting Russian Women’s Activism
Activists’ Lives in Historical Context • Analyzing the Women‘s Movement

Appendix A Registered Women’s Organizations in Russia
Appendix B Open Letter to American Women Issued on Behalf of the Congress of Soviet Women, July 1993
Interviews with Portrayed Activists
Works Cited

About the Author(s)

Linda Racioppi teaches at James Madison College, Michigan State University. Racioppi is the author of Soviet Policy towards South Asia since 1970.

Katherine O'Sullivan See teaches at James Madison College, Michigan State University. See is the author of First World Nationalisms: Class and Ethnic Politics in Northern Ireland and Quebec.