The WCDI project in Arkhangelsk was initiated in the meeting of the CEE Network of Gender Issues leaders in Brunnsvik, Sweden, May 2000. The project started with a preparatory work on studying of the situation with women` movement in Arkhangelsk region, searching for co-partners, writing of an application form for getting fund, translation of manuals into Russian, copying and distribution of working materials. The application was sent to Sonja Lokar, CEE Network for Gender Issues Executive director, and Conny Fredriksson, General Secretary, European Forum for Solidarity and Democracy. The funding was get from the Norwegian Labor Party, Women` section, in March, 2002.
The Training of Trainers seminar was held in Arkhangelsk 16-17 February, 2001, in the Norwegian-Pomor University Centre. The seminar started the regional project WCDI which held in its content conducting of 10 local training seminars and aiming development of gender equality in the region of Arkhangelsk, Russia, stimulating of women` participation in politics, rising of self-consciousness and self-evaluation of women, development of democratic processes and sustainable development of a society, development of civil initiatives in a society, bringing up of a new political culture and such components as participation of all its members in political processes, rational compromise, partnership, tolerance. The project took an aim to transfer such ideas into a process of involvement of women into politics.
The TOT seminar was held by Sonja Lokar, managing director, CEE Network for Gender Issues, Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Britt Solvik, deputy major, Bodø, Norway, leader of the Labor Party, Women section, Nordland, Norway. The TOT seminar participants (representatives of women groups, associations, political parties, NGO-s, youth organizations, women-deputies) evaluated very high both the agenda of the two-days seminar and working of trainers as well. All the TOT seminar participants (34 women) were supplied with a packet of papers “How to conduct local WCDI training”.
First it was a plan to conduct a series of 10 local training for the period of January – October, 2002. Actually the training program had been prolonged by the reason of that, first, July-August is a vocational time in Russia and it was a problem to gather women altogether for such training, second, since June till September many of women in the North-West of Russian in a whole and in Arkhangelsk region in particular, are busy with agricultural works in their country-side pieces of land together with their families to grow vegetables and berries which is a good support in every-day life within the year and helps to survive their families in winter-time.
The series of local training was held and distributed within the year by following:
Local training – 1 March, 23-24 Arkhangelsk, Norwegian-Pomor University Centre
Local training – 2 April, 13-14 Arkhangelsk, Norwegian-Pomor University Centre
Local training – 3 April, 27-28 Koriazhma, local branch of the Pomor university
Local training – 5 May, 18-19 Novodvinsk, municipality
Local training – 5 May, 25-26 Naryan-Mar, pedagogical college
Local training - 6 June, 15-16 Ustj-Pinega, secondary school
Local training – 7 October, 12-13 Novodvinsk, women` city centre
Local training – 8 October, 26-27 Arkhangelsk, Pomor State University
Local training – 9 November, 9-10 Arkhangelsk, Norwegian-Pomor University Centre
Local training – 10 November, 23-24 Arkhangelsk, Pomor State University
Local training –11 December, 14-15 Novodvinsk, municipality
Totally 213 women took part in two-days training within the year. The following percentage can illustrate quantitative and qualitative participation:
Representatives of political parties 9,9%
Youth organizations 15,9%
Women` NGO-s 21,7%
Women` groups and associations 34,5%
Women -deputes of local bodies 18%
The analysis of reports from local training let us make the following conclusions:
1. Women in the region are hardly represented as active members of political parties. If they are they take not high positions, and the number of political parties represented in the training program is rather limited: “Edinstvo” (governmental block, supported by high officials in the regional level and by large business and financial companies here as well), “The Union of the Right Forces”, “Yabloko”. Neither representatives of Communist Party no of Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia sent their women-politicians to take part at the training program though they had been informed about it along with the others. Representatives of the Socialist-Democratic Party were presented in seminars only by youth-mainly by students of the university.
2. Women-deputes of local municipality (the City Council) took part in local training that had been conducted in Novodvinsk-a city 25 km from Arkhangelsk. They were active in discussing of social-economic problems of the municipality and welfare issues of citizens but almost none of them belonged to a certain political party. Professionally they belonged to the spheres of education, health care and law system mostly.
3. The project was started and conducted on the base of the Norwegian-Pomor University Centre and the Centre for Women Studies and Gender Research, Pomor State University – and was oriented to the youth too. Students of the university have been active participants of the TOT seminar and of local training as well. It was mostly the students` and post-graduates` contribution that 3 from 11 seminars had been conducted in the far-distance areas. Analysis of the reports shows that namely young trainers have done a very good job and been real enthusiasts in conducting the project.
4. Women from different women` groups, associations and NGO-s formed the most numerous auditorium of local training within the project. The quantitative list of women` organizations is looking like following:
-university and research centers;
-crisis centers and shelters for women;
-association of women-journalists;
-association of women –in-business;
-youth organization “Vertical” in working with teen-agers having problems;
-group of women-farmers;
-group of women-pensioners working with handicraft;
-groups of students and post-graduates of the university;
-youth organization “Terra Incognita” (environmental issues)
Mostly all the local training followed the traditional agenda of the WCDI manual and dealt with the blocks:
-definition of gender equality;
-politicians in practice and in vision;
-politics: women` way;
-techniques of domination;
-language is power;
Local trainers have used the manual and also the materials on different aspects of gender politics they got from the regional coordinator. From the very beginning of the project it became a tradition that all the training (beginning with the TOT training) accompanied with a lecture on a gender theme. A number of the lectures have been developed in the office of the regional coordinator on the following subject and got a big response from the audience:
1. Institutional aspects of gender politics;
2. The system of quoting in politics.
3. Women in politics (national level);
4. Women in politics (local level);
5. Gender representation;
6. Civil society and women NGO-s
7. Issues of democracy from a feminist perspective.
All the materials on the WCDI project and on the subjects mentioned above have been available at the regional coordinator` office. On the base of the manual a number of lectures and seminar for university students have been conducted supplied with the information about the WCDI project namely, CEE Network on Gender Issues and women` movement in European countries.
Information about the project was reflected both by central mass-media (All- Russian Broadcasting company) and local ones (local TV, radio). Periodically news from the WCDI training have been replaced on the university web-site.
No doubt, we can evaluate the WCDI project in Arkhangelsk region as a successful one. To our mind, the project followed the main aims of the WCDI program and fulfilled main goal –women empowerment. It was not concentrated too much on working with women-politicians only-the modern situation in Russia is looking like that not only political parties define the political structure of the society. The current year – 2003 – is the year of elections to the State Duma in Russia, the year – 2004 – presidential elections and elections of governor in Arkhangelsk region, 2004 and 2005 – elections to different levels of local power.
We want to express a firm hope that more and more women will be able to be candidates for different levels of power both in a central level and in a local one. We are absolutely sure that such programs as WCDI give a great assistance in this connection.
Norwegian-Pomor University Centre,
Coordinator of WCDI in Arkhangelsk. Arkhangelsk.