The current issue of the journal is focused on women's participation in elections and political life.
The first article"Background of the Issue" is a brief review of history of women's political activism in the post-Soviet Russia in terms of the project on women and lobbying. The main goal of the project has been lobbying interests of Russian women in the course of the Parliament elections in 1999. The other important goal has been gender education of politicians. The author has mentioned that information about the achievements of the project is presented in other articles of the issue.
The second article has presented the information about the British and the Russian partners of the project. All the participants are experts in strategy planning/political activism and professional trainers on the issues. For instance, Leslie Abdela, one of the authors for the current issue, is the director of the British organization"Shevolution". From 1992 she has been an expert and counselor on the issues of democracy development for governments and international organizations. As for the Russian partners, they are representatives of the six non-governmental organizations. One of them is the Women's Information Network , a managing organization of the project.
The article"Women and Lobbying" is about the follow-up activities of the women participants of the seminar held in September 1999. The women represented non-governmental organizations from Irkutsk (Siberia), St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk (Karelia), Dubna (Moscow region). They arranged educational programs for women participating in pre-elections campaign, for their supporters and women voters. The project participants used the knowledge and skills they acquired at the September seminar. It was a difficult task but the outcomes were successful. One of them is participation of nearly 67% of women in Russia in the latest election.
The second seminar of the project took place in January 2000. It was focused on evaluation of the work of the regional groups and the project in general. The information about the experience is presented in the article.
Irina Gertsik, a chairwoman of the Council of the League of Voters from the Kaliningrad region, is the author of the second article. It is the analysis of the current political situation in terms of women's participation in pre-election campaigns and their achievements. The author makes an effort to compare the numbers of women running for offices in the regions and in the State Duma ("Parliament"). Ms. Gertsik states that women are not active in pre-election campaigns. In relation to this fact she suggests launching the project on support of women running for Deputies' offices. The project should include effective educational programs on election technologies. That would contribute to raising status of women politicians.
The author of the next article is E. Makhmutova from Ufa. Her work is focused on gender aspects of election experience in Bashkortostan. Ms. Makhmutova has given a review of the election process in the historic context. She has stated that the period between the elections of 1996 and 1999 did not become the time of consolidating all women's non-governmental organizations and parties of Bashkortostan. In addition, the number of women running for Deputy offices has reduced. The author has also stated that the situation is similar all over Russia. Ms. Makhmutova's conclusion is the need of gender education in the society.
The article called"What do Women Want?" is also included into the issue. It is about the pilot sociological research done in February-March 2000 in the framework of the project on women and lobbying. The researchers worked in such regions of Russia as Pskov, Irkutsk, Dubna, Karelia, St.Petersburg. Different methods of surveying and various questions were used in the research. Today women think that the most crucial issues for the Russian society are poverty, safety, health care, unemployment, violence and violation of human rights.
The next article"Parity Democracy and 300 Group" has been presented by Leslie Abdela, a representative of the British team. The author has explained the need for democracy of parity and the background of the 300 Group. The information about the 300 Group background is very interesting in terms of democracy development in Great Britain. She has stressed the crucial role of the Group in promoting women to the Parliament. More women started their participation in political and public life on the regional and the national levels. Ms. Abdela has also given her review of the barriers to women's active participation in the Parliament in Great Britain.
The article"Perspectives of Parity Democracy in Russia. The Objectives of the Women's Movement" is written by Yekaterina Lakhova, a prominent politician of Russia. Ms. Lakhova has presented her vision of parity democracy in Russia. The author is convinced in its effectiveness for the Russian society. One of the most interesting parts of the article is dedicated to the background of the issue in terms of identifying the current obstacles for women's political activism. Ms. Lakhova has named the women's movement of Russia as the main resource for building the civic society and changing the current gender situation in the political life of the country. She has also mentioned such an important resource as Charter of Women's Solidarity signed on March 4, 1997 in Moscow. Ms. Lakhova is convinced that the Constitution of the Russian Federation is also crucial in promoting gender equality in the society. However, mechanisms of implementation of the current legislation are far from being perfect; it is really important to work on changing those mechanisms. The author has also stressed the importance of public awareness campaigns on gender issues for changing the attitudes in the Russian society. Ms. Lakhova has also offered creation of the special Ministry on Women as the means of strengthening thenational mechanism of improving the status of women.
Natalia Yargomskaya and Elena Byelokurova have presented their sociological analytical review on the outcomes of the elections to the State Duma (Parliament) in St. Petersburg in December 1999. The authors stated a low number of women running for offices compared to the number of men. One of the important conclusions is that it was easier to win for the women members of major political parties. The other crucial conclusion is related to a few women on the regional lists of political parties. That is the main barrier to their mandate of the Deputy of the State Duma.
The next part of the issue includes the letter of the initiative group"For Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities of Women". The most prominent sociologists and advocates from St. Petersburg are members of the group, such Elena Zdravomyslova and Ludmila Yakhontova. The letter is focused on the gender issue of elections to the State Duma. Thus, the authors state such violations of women's human rights as various of forms of violence against women, sexual harassment at workplace and labor/social discrimination in particular. This is against the Constitution of Russia and the UN Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The authors have suggested that all candidates Deputies would include the issues directed to changing the status of women in the society into their pre-election programs. They should take into account the above mentioned documents, focusing on elimination of discrimination of women and promotion of the principle of equal rights and equal opportunities. The authors think that such an important step would be possible through changing the current legislation of Russia.
The last article of the current issue is a brief review of the law drafts of the State Duma (Parliament) of the Russian Federation. There are 503 law drafts, among them 178 drafts are the priority documents focused on social policy in Russia. For instance, twenty law drafts are on the pension issues and social support of the people with limited physical abilities.
The summary is prepared by Larissa Ponarina