Within the exhibition “The radius of zero. The ontology of the art zeroes” Marina Naprushkina and Irina Solomatina presented their Sociopolitical dictionary – a short guide book to social policy in modern Belarus.
Patriarchy is a form of social organization in which a man takes a dominant role in family, economic and social life. A woman finds herself in service role; she is displaced from public space (which concentrates the main resources) to private sphere (family, house). The Government of the Republic of Belarus is a kind of “private managers` club”: officials come here from the vertical of executive power, only 5% of women among them. Women are involved in almost all fields of labor, but they are not admitted to high career positions.
Provision of 80%
Taking state positions women are expected to behave “correctly” and be loyal to the state system, otherwise they risk to lose their jobs. Women take the majority in electoral commissions. They have to provide the most important function for reproduction of the President’s power. Due to the results of the presidential election of 2010 they provided it within 80%.
Social contract between a woman and the state
The State implements guardianship over women (working mothers). Today in the Republic of Belarus women predominate in public sector, because there exist child-care leave and an opportunity to part-time work, but there also remains the lowest wages. There is constant feminization of low-paying occupational groups.
Belarus is the absolute leader on the number of members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs among post-socialist countries and EU countries. There are 1441.6 policemen per 100 thousand inhabitants of the country. It exceeds more than twice the average rates in a sample of 15 countries (Russia is in the second place). In 2010, females accounted for 5% of the total number of applicants, who were accepted in the militia university.
There is an alternative way of solving the “woman question”, which is successfully implemented in Scandinavian countries. It lies in changing of traditional social order through the involvement of men in childcare. In Belarus this opportunity was tried to be considered in the third national plan (2008-2010) through the introduction of “Father’s Day.” But the process of understanding of “fatherhood” had not been lasting for a long time. The Ministry of Internal Affairs didn’t support the introduction of “Father’s Day” because the role of a male father undermines the professional code of the structure.
BEMD (Belarusian economic model of development)
It is “Soviet planned” economy modernized by adding some elements of market. Its central element is the vertical of power with “the only politician” at the top. Man-leader-dad doesn’t need any advices, he can cope with any social problem alone and he is not interested in building civil society. An attempt to challenge his decisions is perceived as a threat of destroying social stability.
History of Belarus is written by men. Thus, they write “male” history. Schoolbooks represent a world where men are more active and more capable than women. Unmarried, widows, witches, lesbians, warriors, scholars, artists and writers are virtually absent in our history.
Gender Education in the Republic of Belarus
Due to the new Code of education, the main aim of gender education is forming of understanding of the role and life purposes of men and women in modern society. “Gender Education” in the Republic of Belarus reproduces a traditional understanding of male and female roles and doesn’t contribute to their understanding and changing. Girls are taught to perform the role of a housewife, to take care of family life. Boys are taught to be breadwinners and protectors, to build relationships between the family and the outside world.
National Beauty Contest
National beauty contest is organized by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and other governmental organizations. Demonstration of “beauty of Belarusian women,” is particularly valuable “asset” of the country (in other words, it is a commodity), which is under the protection of the state and men.
In Belarus an increased attention is paid to the institution of motherhood. In 1996 due to the president decree the celebration of Mother’s Day was imposed on October 14. Having given a birth to a child and becoming a mother, a woman faces many challenges. Her social status and financial position are deteriorated; she is passing through enormous physical and mental stresses. Because of their “biology” women become the major clients of social services and recipients of state benefits.
“The body of the nation”
With the collapse of socialism in the former Soviet Union the formation of national reconstruction and economic inequality had begun. Under the slogan of national rebirth the gradual returning of women to their “true purpose” with the ideas of “demographic security” and “Christian morality” had happened. A woman’s body is represented as “the body of the nation”, which should be taken under care. Discussions about banning abortion, restrictions on women’s reproductive choice and women’s returning to family are initiated.
/ These materials are provided specially for the portal ART AKTIVIST by the authors Marina Naprushkina and Irina Solomatina / the project “Belarus / / Institute for the Future” ©