Women in E Europe / USSR

The following is an excerpt from issue #38 of Left Business Observer (250 W 85 St, New York NY 10024, 212-874-4020). Electronic edition available from New York On-Line (718-852-2662).

FRYING PANS & FIRES. In an appalling interview in the June issue of Mother Jones, Tomas Jezek, an adviser to the Friedmanite Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus, prescribed a strong dose of unemployment for the Czech economy, now one of the healthiest in Eastern Europe. Too many people are working, he said -- especially women, whose "natural and primary role," he said, is at home with the kids.

Not to get nostalgic for Stalinism, but the revolutions of 1989 don't look like a good deal for women. Moves are afoot across the liberated zones to outlaw abortion, though not without vigorous opposition. East German women, initially at the vanguard of devising a new political order, now find themselves in the smothering embrace of Helmut Kohl. Feminists, who had to listen for years while orthodox Marxists told them to bite their tongues in the interests of the class struggle, are now being told to remain silent as the glorious marketized future is built.

And here's Gorbachev, from Perestroika: "[We have] failed to pay attention to women's specific rights and needs arising from their role as mother and home-maker, and their indispensable educational function...." Working women "no longer have enough time to perform their everyday duties at home -- housework, the upbringing of children, and the creation of a good family atmosphere. We have discovered that many of our problems... are partially caused by the weakening of family ties and slack attitude to family responsibilities.... [We want to] make it possible for women to return to their purely womanly mission."

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