As more gender studies courses are cut in Russian academic institutions, students of both sexes are deprived of learning about women’s rights and history.
Why we care: Women’s history and experiences are often disregarded at Russian universities, particularly in South Russia and the Northern Caucasus.
How we’re solving this: A regional conference will strengthen the network of women researchers and activists to ensure women’s voices and experiences are documented in academia and beyond.
The political and social climate in Russia has not always fostered academic freedom, much less support for feminist and gender studies. As more and more gender studies courses are cut, students of both sexes are deprived of learning about women’s rights and history. Furthermore, women academics in Russia receive little financial support; they are excluded from leadership positions, face minimal job security, and receive little to no maternity leave. This is especially true for women historians and academics in South Russia and the Northern Caucasus.
Since 2007, the Interregional Non-Governmental Organization of Researchers in Women’s History (INGORWH) has worked to foster educational and research spaces for and by women. It has advocated for gender and women’s studies programs in Russia and for the inclusion of gender topics in the university curriculum. It supports and coordinates research projects on women’s history and encourages resource, information, and faculty exchange among universities, scholars, and activists. In particular, the INGORWH aims to shed light on the history of women in the Caucasus, along with their life experiences, values, and needs. Research practices and findings are then integrated into a growing body of studies that constitute Russian women’s history.
INGORWH’s annual conference brings together up to 300 researchers and social activists from the region. This year the organization is preparing a forum from October 3-6, 2013 in Nalchik, with a focus on the experiences of women from the South of Russia and Northern Caucasus. Participants will explore the complex ethnic and religious tensions in the region, identifying opportunities to raise women’s awareness and activism. Conference proceedings will be disseminated in universities and research centers throughout Russia. The conference will increase support for women’s studies, and women’s rights, improving the quality of life of women, their families, and communities.