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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Forum Urges Election Of Women of Any Party

Vote for any female candidate, no matter what her political affiliation may be, that was the message from Independent Women's Forum on December's elections Thursday.

While different political blocs are desperately trying to define their political platforms, a handful of female candidates running for the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, have decided to combine their strengths to achieve one goal - to bring women into politics.

Aware that women stand little chance of gaining seats in the near future, many female candidates have decided to use the election campaign to spread the wold. Get women's issues on the political agenda.

"I know I won't be elected to the Duma, but I can start to raise awareness", said Lena Kochkina, a member of the forum who is running for the Duma on a ticket with the Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc. "The aim is to make women's issues politically visible".

Although communist ideology made much of women's rights, in practice the Soviet Union remained backward in this area and the situation has, if anything, deteriorated since the collapse of the Soviet system nearly two years ago.

The legislature disbanded in September, for example, included six times fewer women legislators than during the era of stagnation in the 1970s.

With the cooperation of the National Democratic Institute, which is funded by USAID, the forum organized a two-day seminar to discuss campaign tactics of how to reach women voters in the short time still left to campaign.

Saying that the public does not even know what women's issues are, Kochkina added that the forum was preparing a series of campaign tactics, including a 10-minute commercial to run on state television, telling viewers to keep in mind that who they vote for will directly influence their lives.

"We need to make clear that if someone votes for a certain candidate and that candidate thinks women should get back in the kitchen, then they should be aware of this", said Kochkina.

During the Soviet era, women were said to be working equally alongside men to build socialism, but in reality they had to carry the burden of being in charge of the household, taking care of the children and having a job.

With the disappearance of numerous state-funded kindergartens, more mothers are staying at home to take care of their children, because they cannot afford the high tuition fees.

Many have no choice but to stay home, according to statistics compiled by the former parliament's Committee on Women's Affairs, which showed that women make up over 70 percent of all unemployed Russians.

Another issue Kochkina wants to raise is that the sharp rise in crime since the collapse of the Soviet Union has also led to an increase in rape, a subject that is rarely mentioned in Russia.