Dr. Natalia S. Grigorieva
Candidate of Philosophical Sciences
Director of the Science – Research Institute
International Women’s Center
The role of women in society has been dictated by external conditions such as history, culture, and religion. Evidence of women’s status can be found in the myths and legends from corresponding civilizations. Bas-reliefs on the Parthenon depict bearded men fighting the Amazons, women warriors. Other tales from the Middle Ages, mostly depict women as helpless creatures in need of rescue.
It can therefore be stated that as the world changes, so does the role of women in society. New developments in our own society dictate the need for a change in methods for coping with issues related to women. These problems must be solved at global, regional, and national levels. It is urgent that advanced social technologies be applied to solve the problems.
A step in this direction has already been taken. In 1985, according to strategies accepted by the UN in Nairobi, “development must now enter a new plane, wherein women’s role in society is recognized and where she finds her importance”.
Women constitute half the world’s population. They do approximately seventy percent of the work, but constitute about thirty percent of the recognized labor force. This fact cannot be ignored and social technologies should change accordingly.
Women are the first to be affected by economic recessions. At such times, policy to improve women’s economic status is seldomly pursued, due in part to their small participation in economically defined work. Women control the majority of `non-money’ activities such as home maintenance and raising children. A concentration of policy in this area of activity can yield positive reforms. Labor-saving devices and access to cottage industry opportunities are just two possibilities. Such policies account for women’s role as the primary providers and caretakers.
An index of a society’s level of progress can be observed through the status of the women. In this light, solving the problems of women would be considered a step towards a higher civilization, and not a concession to the `weaker half’. Global and local applications of new social technologies must integrate this belief into their policies. They must not substitute a social reorganization nor hamper the efforts of women for change.
The Women’s Research and Education Institute, which I have the honor to head, deals with the elaboration of social technologies for the International Women’s Center. The main focus is scientific studies based on historical data. The aim is to clarify women’s status in society, their level of social and cultural development, as well as their role in social changes. Institute activities are oriented towards future gender problems, woman’s ecology, the quest for new technologies and resolving women’s issues.
It is hoped that these efforts will promote the development of a social policy reflecting the needs of men, women and their families. The availability of trustworthy data and other concrete evidence will permit the determination of women’s actual contribution to social developments. The Institute’s statistical bureau is creating a methodology for obtaining data and key indexes concerning women’s social condition. Modern and dependable data on women’s condition will play an important role in elimination of stereotypes in the pursuit of complete equality.
The department of women’s sociology deals with the concrete research on combining women’s non-economic and economic activities. This, in effect, will provide the optimum combination of women participating in manufacturing, science, and policy while also fulfilling their families’ needs.
The department of creative psychology investigates the problems of the genesis of women’s creative capabilities starting from the earliest stages of individual development. Finally, the department of the history of women’s movements is preparing specialized publications for and about women.
The Institute plans to establish a ramified network system involving ethnographers, psychologists, demographers, medical workers, lawyers, businessmen, marketing experts and other specialists. In the future, a special youth department will be created to concentrate on teenage problems.
I would like to add that the following programs have already been launched or will be started in the near future: Women and Environment; Ecologically Admissible Development and Demographical Problems; and Women and Policy. Every woman is said to belong to a country and time, but we are all daughters of the Earth.
Dr. Natalia Grigorieva holds a Ph.D. in Philosophical Sciences and specialises in Social Policy and Social Development. Currently with the Russian Academy of Creative Endeavours, she has also been Director of the Women’s Research and Education Institute, established by the International Women’s Centre.