Thursday, May 05, 2005

Links to Interesting Articles

Links to articles:

1) A Report (from Radio Free Europe) on the Status of Women in Central and Eastern Europe:

See my essay on life in Pidhajtsi (which I will try to post by the end of today, with a link to it), in which I devote a few lines to the issue of (extreme) gender inequality in Ukraine. In short, one can summarize the situation like this: women do all the real work of domestic work, which includes cooking, cleaning, mending, etc. (and mind you, clothes for the most part are washed by hand), while also doing household or farmstead chores that men do, and also working in the fields or working jobs, while the men. . . Well, they sometimes work jobs, come and go from the fields as they please, and then eat and drink or just rest or hang with other fellows the rest of the time while the women are doing the housework and watching the kids, etc. This is a generalization, and many women are lucky to have helpful men around, but as a generalization it points to the rule. And also, at a recent presentation I did in Minneapolis about "Life in Rural Western Ukraine and the Orange Revolution," a woman and friend of mine pointed out that the lot of women is largely the same in the US. Well, this is true only to a piont; no matter which way you cut it, gender inequality is far, far worse in Ukraine and elsewhere than in the US. This is one of the few moments in which I would argue that things in the US are more progressive. . .

That is, in general there seems to be much less alienation in Ukraine than in the West between individual family members, between neighbors, and between strangers, even; and of course between humans and nature. This of course does not mean its a paradise; being so close to others can also be suffocating and annoying, and one always has a neighbor that one just rather not see. But I do think these annoyances are a small price to pay for the relative lack of alienation and estrangment people feel between one another. HOWEVER, Ukrainian society does seem to me to make up for all this with extreme alienation between the genders. I knew few people who would call a member of the opposite sex a friend. Of course, not everyone in the West has close friends of the opposite sex as well, but my impression is that many more do in the West than in Ukraine. Always, my comments on such matters as this are not about absolutes but are comments about tendencies on a continuum. . .

2) An important article (from RFE again) about the lack of any real progress as of yet in terms of local level reform in Ukraine:

I will have to investigate this further, and comment later. But two things: before leaving Pidhajtsi, I heard frequent complaints about who was remaining in the county administration after the OR, and about some of those who were newly appointed. Some of the complaining was done out of jealousy, but some of it was legitimate critique. On the other hand, I am glad that my father's cousin, with whose family I spent most of my time, and with whom I frequently wandered putting up Yushchenko posters and in general canvassing, and who was instrumental in organizing buses to Kyiv and food and supplies for supporting those who went to Kyiv during the OR, and who spent 2 weeks in Kyiv himself, got a position in the county government. He has a reputation as a clean and honest man in town, in general.


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