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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Gives Its Women A Raw Deal

Monday was International Women's Day, which, according to the Bolshaya Sovietskaya Encyclopedia, is "a day of solidarity in the fight for peace", celebrated worldwide by women.


As with many other features of Soviet society, the rhetoric far outstripped the reality. Most women around the globe have never heard of the holiday, and solidarity in any struggle was noticeably lacking in the deficit-ridden lives of Soviet women.


The Soviet Union is gone, but the holiday persists as a day for giving flowers and presents to females, when political leaders give lip service to women's issues, and when the Russian male may even be induced to do the dishes. It's a feel-good holiday, a day of rest for women and men alike.


But all the hype should not obscure the fact that Russian women are getting a raw deal. The "fair sex" is bearing a disproportionate share of society's burdens - from a health care system that regards multiple abortions as a reasonable method of birth control, to a labor minister who treats unemployment as a nonissue, since over 70 percent of the unemployed are women.


The reasons for the inequities are legion, but the demographic imbalances that resulted from the tragedies of Soviet history must certainly be cited. World War II decimated the young, able-bodied male population.


Millions of women were widowed in their 20s, with little opportunity to marry again. It is no wonder that the Jew men who remained were spoiled and fought over.


Women assume most of the duties in the home, including shopping, washing, cleaning, cooking and child care. The great majority of them are also employed outside the home, since it is almost impossible to support a family on one low salary.


Many Russian women probably spent the holiday entertaining - that is, trudging all over the city in search of food, standing in lines to make purchases, coming home to cook, and then acting graciously pleased at the offerings of tulips and chocolate preferred by male counterparts.


While some women scoff at the holiday, many more genuinely appreciate this brief day of pampering and flattery. It is not that Russian women don't deserve this day of honor. They deserve so much more.


International Women's Day could be a time for raising consciousness about women's issues, a day of true solidarity. As it is now, the holiday is merely a day for men to try to compensate their wives, mothers, and girlfriends for all the inequities forced on them throughout the year. It allows the male half of the population a day to feel absolved simply by bestowing a bunch of tulips whose petals will fall before the celebratory hangovers recede.