By Paul Goble
In many countries, wars provide new opportunities for women who often have filled in for men who have gone to the front. But in Russia today, that has not happened at least not yet. Instead, many Russian women have been reduced to poverty and subject to traditionalist moves that seeks to limit their rights and freedoms still further.
Not surprisingly, women have taken the lead in anti-war protests not just because their sons, husbands or relatives are fighting and dying but because they themselves are becoming victims of Putin’s policies. (On the role of women in the anti-war movement, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/04/feminist-anti-war-resistance-fas-leader.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/05/kremlin-ally-denounces-russian.html.)
Violence against Russian women has surged since the start of Putin’s war and may increase still further, many fear, when veterans suffering from PTSD take out their anger on the women in their lives (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/09/violence-against-women-on-rise-since.html).
These dramatic events have attracted some attention but the broader and potentially far more serious negative impact of Putin’s war on Russian women generally has not. EurasiaNet provides a useful listing of some of the other ways the war has harmed Russian women (russian.eurasianet.org/россия-как-война-и-мобилизация-отразились-на-положении-женщин):
On the one hand, the war has left Russian women poorer. Those whose partners have gone to war aren’t getting the kind of aid they need, and those whose partners have fled abroad aren’t getting any assistance at all. As a result, large numbers of them are slipping into poverty. NGOs are seldom able to help.
And on the other, Putin has promoted even more anti-women policies in hopes of boosting the birthrate to make up for war losses and recreating the patriarchal societies of the past that the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church so clearly favor, moving to restrict the right to abortion and limiting the ability of women to protect themselves against violent partners.
Some Russian women are protesting, but many live in fear not only about what is happening now but about what may happen in the future if Putin’s war continues.