This paper aims to provide an overview of post-socialist gender politics in Russia with a specific focus on the redefinition of citizenship. Its main question is whether there has been rupture or continuity with the Soviet gender politics under the circumstances of transition to neo-liberalism.
Despite a strong state aspiration to resolve gender inequality in Soviet Russia, citizenship, that is, rights and duties, was differently defined for women and men. In the lack of treating women as citizens, emancipation of women through achievements like amendments in civil code, labor force participation, education, social provisions, etc. remained limited. This essentialist approach to gender difference seems to exist in Russia under the rule of both Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin. Behind the discourse of bringing the women back in home and that of working mother, there lays an essentialist approach treating women’s social position on the basis of natural differences.
This study consists of two parts. In the first part, the Soviet gender politics, its definition of citizenship, and its ideological and political strategies are overviewed. In the second part, post-socialist gender politics is examined by focusing on two main discourses put by Gorbachev and Putin. The specific focus is put on redefining the rights and duties category of citizenship for women. It is concluded that there has been no drastic change in understanding and treating ‘woman’ before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union.