By Paul Goble
Because polls show Russian women are less supportive of Putin’s war in Ukraine than are men and because many have engaged in protests demanding that their sons, husbands and fathers be allowed to come home, the Kremlin is now focusing on boosting support among women for the war, Sasha Starost, a Free Russia analyst, says.
She says that women have been hit particularly hard by the departure of the men in their lives because that has often led to a reduction in their incomes despite the money the government has offered the latter to fight in Ukraine (semnasem.org/articles/2023/12/26/zhenshiny-i-vojna-kak-rossiyanki-idut-na-front-a-gosudarstvo-pomogaet-im-ne-zhalet-ob-etom).
Because such women find it easier than other groups to mobilize spontaneously from below, the Presidential Administration over the almost two years of war has conducted a campaign directed specifically at women in the hopes of generating support for the war and reducing the chances that women will organize anti-war groups.
So far, however, Starost says, this effort has been far less successful than the regime would like.
The campaign features three interrelated narratives, she continues: that women are heroes and occupy a no less important place in the conflict than men at the front, that women play a particularly important role in giving birth and then raising a new generation of male warriors, and that women should take over the jobs men have had to leave to fight for Russia.
This last narrative is especially important, Starost says. And it features both the promotion of distance work for women ready to take on some jobs formerly occupied by men and also a proposal, not yet acted on, to do away with the current list of professions women are not allowed to practice (rg.ru/2022/12/07/ne-zhenskoe-delo.html).
But despite this effort, support by women for Putin’s war lags that of men; and Russian women continue to organize protests to demand that the men in their lives return home from the front.