15 March 2013, 14:52

Russian Women in the 3rd Millennium: very well educated, they’re leaders who are moving forward - interview

Russian Women in the 3rd Millennium: very well educated, they’re leaders who are moving forward - interview

On March 8 there was a conference in the Church Center of the United Nations in New York; “A Woman in Russian in the 3rd millennium”, the event ran in parallel with the 57th United Nations Commission Status of Women (UN CSW 57) and was jointly organised by the Russian Interregional Union of Life Help for Mentally Handicapped Persons “Sail of Hope" and the American Association of Russian Women. The debates gathered American, Russian-American and Russian women on topics ranging from violence against women to women’s leadership and a woman’s role in society, business and the family. Elizaveta Filatova, founder of the American Association of Russian Women and one of main organizers of the conference, shared with the ‘Voice of Russia’ her views on the role of a Russian woman in the 3rd Millennium.

Voice of Russia (VoR): What does it mean to be a Russian woman in the 3rd Millennium?

Elizaveta Filatova: Actually, that’s quite a hard question for me. As you know, I haven’t lived in Russia for some years and can’t give you an objective answer, but, what I would like to observe is that the women who took part in our conference are real leaders. They’re very smart and brave. They know what they want. They aren’t afraid of talking about violence against women and of evaluating the current regulation system.

Larisa Zelentsova, president of “Sail of Hope,” mentioned that the gender question is a high priority now and a lot of government institutes are working on this problem in Russia.

VoR: What differences can you see between Russian women now and their mothers or grandmothers? Has the role of women evolved over a century?

Elizaveta Filatova: Sure, the role of women, their possibilities and purpose have changed a lot. First of all, modern women can do business, have a good education, and get as many degrees as they need for their life. Modern women can be successful, they can be leaders! They can move forward. However, at the same time, and here it’s just my own opinion, to be independent and successful is easier in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, than in the far remote regions.

VoR: In a few words, how would you describe Russian women in the 3rd Millennium?

Elizaveta Filatova: First at all, Russian women are very beautiful, look good and stylish, they’re smart and kind. And it doesn’t matter what period of time you’re considering or in which country they live. Russian women are very well educated, they’re leaders who are moving forward, but at the same time our women are very feminine.

In my opinion, Russian women in the 3rd Millennium aren’t afraid of saying what they think; of doing business; of accomplishing their wishes and becoming powerful.

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon said that: “Investing in woman is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.” Mr. Ban Ki-Moon always insists on the fact that we need women to be global leaders. I’m very positive that among the female global leaders there will be, and there are, Russian women.

VoR: In your opinion, is there a place for female leaders in Russia?

Elizaveta Filatova: I want to believe that there is such a place for women. Women should be very smart, well-educated, strong and brave young leaders. Anyway, it is very difficult to assert oneself in a man’s society.

VoR: What differences do you see between being a woman in Russia and in the US?

Elizaveta Filatova: That’s a good question. Actually, I have a lot to say about it. I always compare my situation, as a Russian woman living in the US, with the situation of my friends and partners in Russia.

On March 4, I was one of the speakers at the Impact Leadership 21 Summit at the New York Times. I was the only Russian leader there. Of course, it was a great pleasure. American leaders, businesswomen and ambassadors were listening to me and were interested in how to be a Russian woman leader in US.

I’m not sure, that it could be possible in Russia. I don’t want to blame anybody, I just want to draw your attention to the fact that Americans are listening and trying to solve the problems that women face here. Women are more protected. They know their rights and they aren’t afraid to be a leader, a successful businesswoman or to follow a political career. The society welcomes gender equality, and it’s not feminism at all.

The situation is very different in Russia. It is very difficult for a woman to have the same social status as a man, and at the same time, to have a wonderful happy family life. You need to be as smart and brave as the Russian women I welcomed on March 8!

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