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News

Gender and Governance International Conference at the University of Helsinki

On March 28-29 the Gender and Governance International Conference, jointly organized by the Aleksanteri Institute (University of Helsinki) and the Research group 'Comparative Study of the Situation of Women and Men in Public Authorities' from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Higher School of Economics (Moscow), was held in Helsinki. The central theme of the event was gender equality and its relationship with democratic gender-sensitive governance. Members and Heads of the HSE study group, as well as the researchers and professors from the University of Helsinki, presented their reports at the event.

The first day of the conference began with opening speeches of the main organizers and visionaries of the event: Marianna Muravyeva, Professor of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, Valeria Utkina, Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the HSE, and Olga Isupova, Associate Professor of the Institute of Demography of the HSE.

What I liked a lot is that the conference was organized in a seminar-discussion format. I think that participating in a discussion and expressing different points of view is always a big plus, as it gives additional motivation to learn more. 

Ekaterina Chemankova 
bachelor's student of the Faculty of Social Sciences at HSE,
member of the research group

The programme of the first day of the conference included discussions such as 'Gender Policies and Gender Mainstreaming in the Situation of Gender Backlash', 'Gender and Public Administration', and 'Work-Life Balance and Gender Policy'. Marianna Muravyeva presented a paper on gender-(in)sensitive governance in contemporary Russia. In her paper, she discussed the regulation of public and private spheres of the population, the first of which was initially considered male, while the second was considered female. The case of Duma deputies using the liberal discourse of protecting the private sphere from the influence of the state in decriminalizing domestic violence in Russia was of particular interest.

The future of gender and gender policy depends on who will explore these issues in the future. If the gender agenda is formed by the conference participants from HSE, then we will definitely have a more equal society. The main thing that determines success, in this case, are ideas obtained in the course of research based on facts. Such an approach (as opposed to straightforward ideological constructions) gives us hope for gender equality in Russia. 

Alexander Kondakov 
postdoctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki

Alexander Kondakov, a researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute in Helsinki, discussed sexual sovereignty in Russia, looking at the problem of LGBT rights violations from a historical perspective. Students, professors, and lecturers from HSE also presented their studies. Issues such as women in the police force, the role of Russian civil servants in shaping Russia's 'conservative turn', factors of women's career development in the Russian civil service, as well as their discrimination in this area in Russia and Ghana were addressed.

In just three days I was able to feel like a full-fledged member of the University of Helsinki and the academic community. I am grateful for a comfortable and respectful atmosphere that was created for students who don't have much experience with academic conferences. It was a pure pleasure to give our papers and participate in the discussions.

Alina Efimova 
bachelor's student of the Faculty of Social Sciences at HSE,
member of the research group

At the end of the first day, participants raised the topics of women’s perception of their social rights after socialism, socio-political resources and barriers of mothering, restrictions for young women applying for the Russian state civil service, and work-life balance of female bureaucrats in Russia and Azerbaijan. Each of the presentations was accompanied by a fruitful discussion among all the participants.

The opportunity to present my work, participate in discussions with researchers from another university, make interesting connections, listen to informative lectures — I enjoyed all of these things during this trip. Now I want to participate more in the organization of such events in my university.

Anastasia Minnikova 
master's student of the Faculty of Social Sciences at HSE,
member of the research group

On the second day of the conference, a round table was organized in order to discuss the main causes of gender inequality in contemporary Russia and specific initiatives to be implemented in this area. The participants identified the following factors that are an obstacle to achieving gender equality: feminization of poverty, male ignorance about gender equality, gender stereotypes, lack of awareness about the women's movement, a double burden, no family-friendly policies. According to the participants, in order to improve the current situation, expert knowledge should be used in the state administration, minority groups and diversity should be supported, the influence of nongovernmental institutions such as religion should be lessened, gender-awareness education should be implemented in schools and universities, and public discourses and gender legislation should be improved.

Such events contribute to the development of cross-cultural values ​​and critical thinking among students, to the ability to analyze the situation not just from different perspectives, but from different points of view, not limiting themselves to the worldview of their country.

Natalia Kotrikova 
bachelor's student of the Faculty of Social Sciences at HSE,
member of the research group

During the conference, the participants of the HSE research group felt like full-fledged members of the Helsinki University community. The students visited different university campuses, study spaces, and libraries, communicated with local students and lecturers and even attended a public talk. In addition, the students were provided with an active programme of exploring the city of Helsinki, which included walking tours, visiting museums and the island of Suomenlinna. As a result, the city made a lasting impression: both on those who were visiting the Finnish capital for the first time as well as those who had been there before.

All of the HSE students who participated in the conference express their gratitude to Valeria Utkina, Olga Isupova and Marianna Muravyova for organizing such an exciting and useful educational trip and look forward to further cooperation of the HSE Research group 'Comparative Study of the Situation of Women and Men in Public Authorities' and the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki.


Alina Efimova,
final-year Public Administration bachelor's student