Women and History
For years, women combined multiple roles in everyday life – mothers, breadwinners, workers, etc. Though the roles were always considered a part of daily life, they have rarely gained particular attention in the public discourse. Women often need to juggle between different tasks and maintain the public image of the perfect mother, wife, and worker. The global pandemic has put a focus once again on the redistribution of gender roles in the household, economic life, and everyday life in general. Times are different, but the challenges are similar – the invisible contribution of women in society’s functioning remains in place.
The Heinrich Boell Foundation is a continuous supporter and promoter of gender democracy through a wide scope of activities within its work in different countries, including Georgia and Ukraine. This includes a number of publications and initiatives aimed at expanding the local discourses on gender topics.
The main idea of the joint project, implemented by the Heinrich Boell Foundation offices in Kyiv and Tbilisi, is to promote public discussion on Women and History. Over the years, a number of important initiatives to support research on women’s history have been implemented in both Ukraine and Georgia. However, much more can and needs to be done in this area and we hope the project will contribute to this process.
This year’s pilot project covers two countries, Georgia and Ukraine. Based on the example of the articles from these countries, we invite you to explore different aspects of women’s domestic and professional life. Women’s domestic and professional life during the late Soviet period (1970s and 1980s) is a result of discussions with Heinrich Boell Foundation partners, to whom we are particularly grateful. During discussions, we raised following key questions:
• What were women’s social and economic conditions under state socialism during the 1970s-1980s (e.g., policies of paid maternity leave, directives for women’s equal participation in the labor market, material and institutional support for raising children, etc.)?
• What were the preconditions for women’s economic empowerment and integration into the labor market?
• What were the discourses of sexuality during the Brezhnev era and how were these discourses changing when they were cross-cutting local cultural and nationalist aspects? How did the discourses of sexuality affect women and how did women internalize some of the disciplinary practices?
The research period, 1970-1980s, was selected with a purpose to review the events and practices of the rather recent past and also, during discussions with our partners, it became obvious that there was not much research done on this period and it would be useful to have academic articles covering late Soviet period.
The cooperation resulted in a publication combining four articles from both countries (two from each country) under the umbrella of the joint topic “Gender perspectives of everyday life.” The publication is useful for students, researchers, and academics working in different fields of history and gender studies. The countries share much in common, starting from similar everyday practices and going through active transformation processes over the last decades. The presented works in this publication serve as a starting point into extending further regional and thematic collaboration among wider circles of researchers and academics, including representatives of other countries (e.g., Armenia, Belarus, etc.). We believe that the project will contribute to enlarging the regional network of feminist researchers on memory politics and will strengthen cooperation among them. We also hope that our project continues in future focusing on women writers, protests/activism, war experiences starting from the 1990s, and more. The publication is useful for students, researchers, and academics working in different fields of history and gender studies. We hope that a critical approach towards the past and its respective analysis will contribute not only to strengthening cooperation, but also to changing the narrative on the role of women in our history.
Lilia Chikhladze, Program Coordinator
Heinrich Boell Foundation, Tbilisi office, South Caucasus Region
Sofia Oliynyk, Program Coordinator
Heinrich Boell Foundation, Kyiv office, Ukraine
Table of contents
“Trade Unions Are Also Working Hard in This Regard”: Labour Policy and Gender Issues of Women’s Work in Ukraine in the 1970s – Early 1980s - 7
White Overalls and a Fur Long Coat: Women Metallurgists of Late Socialism - 19
The Role of Ukrainian Women in the Development of the Soviet Shadow Food Market (1970s – mid-1980s) - 36
Georgian Discourse on Sexuality during the Brezhnev Era - 49