Better an old woman with a rolling pin than a peasant man with a sub-machine-gunMale voter, 1993
The great historical divides of 1917 and 1991 are significant for heralding changes in ideological, political and economic directions. But simultaneously these important years are false divides. Much stayed the same after the revolutionary rupture of 1917 and the failed coup of August 1991. Continuities in the social fabric were especially strong, notwithstanding modifications and adaptations. Whilst some attitudes altered, traditional notions of gender roles persisted, too, especially among older generations.
After 1991, institutions of the USSR did not all collapse. They frequently persisted under new names, run by the same people, but in a redefined context. The main aims of those in charge were for their organisations to survive, readjust, consolidate and be successful. Although ‘victims’ of the shifting and precarious circumstances in which they found themselves, directors, chairpersons, employees and organisers had to find inventive ways to guarantee the persistence of their various institutions. Broader socio-economic and political contexts constrained and shaped the opportunities available to these agents of adaptation.
The Soviet Women's Committee (SWC) has reasonably successfully set about redefining its role to guarantee survival in rapidly changing, sometimes chaotic, economic and political systems. In the independent Russian Federation, the SWC renamed itself the Union of Women of Russia (Soiuz Zhenshchin Rossii). In the 1993 elections, it joined forces with the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Russia (Assotsiatsiia Zhenshchin-predprinimatelei Rossii) and Women of the Fleet (Zhenshchin Voenno-Morskogo Flota) and fielded thirty-six candidates under the umbrella movement ‘Women of Russia’.