The Status of Women in the Work Force After the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe

The Status of Women in the Work Force After the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe

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The Status of Women in the Work Force After the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe


The fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union marked the end of an era in which official ideology and state policy often masked the reality of citizens' lives. This contradiction was particularly acute for women, a group that the Soviet model of communism was intended to emancipate (Basu, 1995; Bystydzienski, 1992; Corrin, 1992; Einhorn, 1993; Millarand and Wolchik, 1994; Nelson and Chowdhury, 1994; Rueshchemeyer, 1994). Under the guise of Marxist-Leninist ideology, women were accorded an equal right to work and to participate in the building of socialism. The Soviet model, which was imposed to a greater or lesser extent on all of the Eastern European countries, was meant to embody this precept.

In order to mobilize women into the work force, the party-state provided numerous social programs--free day care, subsidized school supplies and clothing, guaranteed maternity leave, and nearly full employment. Women, however, were hardly emancipated through these programs. They were concentrated, with a few notable exceptions, in a "pink collar ghetto" of low wage and low prestige jobs and often given employment well below their educational qualifications. Moreover, the "emancipation" accorded them by state officials resulted in an extreme "double burden" (Basu, 1995; Bystydzienski, 1992; Corrin, 1992; Einhorn, 1993; Millarand and Wolchik, 1994; Nelson and Chowdhury, 1994; Rueschemeyer, 1994). They were expected to perform both paid and domestic labor, fulfilling most (or all) of the household and parenting duties without modern conveniences. These superwomen worked full-time jobs and then came home to prepare meals and clean...


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Lijphart, Arend. "Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method." American Political Science Review. 65 (1971): 682-693.

Millarand, James and Wolchik, Sharon, eds. The Social Legacy of Communism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Nelson, Barbara and Chowdhury, Najma, eds. Women and Politics Worldwide. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.

Przeworski, Adam and (?) Teune. The Logic of Comparative Social Inquiry. New York: John Wiley Sons, 1970.

Rueschemeyer, Marilyn, ed. Women in the Politics of Post-communist Eastern Europe. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.,1994

Scheppele, Kim Lane. "Women's Rights in Eastern Europe." East European Constitutional Review. Winter 1995.

Slay, Ben. "Rapid versus Gradual Economic Transition" Economics. August 1994. United Nations Statistical Yearbook, 39th Edition. 1994.

"Statistical Abstract" 1994.

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