Workshop on the Status of Women in the New Market Economies
co-sponsored by NEWW and the University of Connecticut School of Law
Read the Conference Program
April 13-15, 1996
Prepared by Sonia Jaffe Robbins
SATURDAY MORNING, APRIL 13, 1996
MEETING OF NEWW EAST-EAST LEGAL COMMITTEE - Summary
On a cloudy, cool April morning in Hartford, Connecticut, the NEWW East-East
Legal Committee met before the formal opening of the legal conference "The
Status of Women in New Market Economies."
First, the introductions:
Ann Snitow, professor of English and women's Studies at the New School for Social Research, U.S.A., and co-founder of NEWW
Isabel Marcus, professor of law at the State University of New York at Buffalo, U.S.A.
Cheryl Lehman, a feminist accountant and professor of accounting at Hofstra University, U.S.A., and works with women's groups in Russia
Joanna Regulska, member of the board of NEWW, director of the Center for Russian, Central and East European Studies at Rutgers University, U.S.A.
Malgorzata Fuszara, professor of law at Warsaw University and founder of the Center for Socio-Legal Research on Women at the university, Poland
Anastasia Posadskaya, founding director of the Moscow Center for Gender Studies, now living in the U.S.
Nadezhda Kuznetsova, Saratov, consultant with the NEWW legal network in Russia, chair of the Association of Women Lawyers in Russia
Ludmilla Zavadskaya, Moscow, founder of the Center for Development of Parliamentarism, and served in the Duma 1993-95
Irina Mouleshkova, Sofia, professor of internal law, member of the supervisory board of Privatization Agency of Bulgaria
Alexandra Rudneva, founder of the Kharkov Women's Studies Center, director of the Women and Law Center, Ukraine
Victoria Vrana, coordinator of the NEWW On-Line project, U.S.A.
Debra Schultz, "recent survivor of a Ph.D.," on the advisory board of the Moscow Center for Gender Studies U.S.A.
Nadine Taub, director of the Rutgers Women's Litigation Center, working since 1973 on women's rights issues, U.S.A.
Donna Axel, recent graduate of CUNY Law School, New York, former liaison to NEWW Legal Committee, U.S.A.
Daniela Lupas, judge in Romania and working on Ph.D. at Columbia Law School
Dagmara Baraniewska, coordinates women's programs at the Batory Foundation, Poland
Urszula Nowakowska, founder of Women's Rights Center, Warsaw, and regional director of NEWW Legal Committee, Poland
Nanette Funk, professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College, U.S.A.
Lydia Jankovic Gottlieb, originally from Belgrade, then Canada, now in Atlanta, U.S.A., consultant for Soros Foundation, currently liaison to the international affairs committee for the Olympic games
Csilla Kollonay Lehoczky, head of the labor law department at ELTE university, Hungary
Dorota Majewska, NEWW intern, Master's candidate at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Melissa Stone, secretary of the board of NEWW, teaches self-defense and coordinates NEWW's self-defense project, currently working with media to broadcast NEWW's message
Sonia Jaffe Robbins, co-founder of NEWW, adjunct professor of journalism, "fledgling novelist," U.S.A.
Shana Penn, executive director and co-founder of NEWW, U.S.A.
Kristina Morvai, teaches criminal law at ELTE, attorney with the Constitutional Legislative Policy Institute, Hungary
After introductions came detailed logistics for the coming weekend meeting.
Then we went around the room once more, to answer the question:
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?
As a delegate to the Duma, Ludmilla participated in drafting the law for ombudsman, whose main purpose is to legally protect the rights of women in the Russian Federation. At the first hearing, there was only one vote against the law, but in following hearings of the draft law, the Duma divided into two groups, based on their attitudes towards the person who it was expected would become the first ombudsman, the human rights activist Kovalev: the Communist Party and Zhirinovsky's party were opposed to him, while the
democratic parties supported him. Ludmila has tried to argue that approval
of a law cannot take such a matter into account, to no avail. She is now trying
to get women in the Duma to focus on issue, regardless of party. In the current
Duma, there are 47 women, 10.2 percent in Duma.
The Kharkov Women's Studies Center has studied violence
against women through surveys of ordinary women, prepared a study for UNICEF
on children in violent home situations, interviewed women in prisons. Sasha
is working on drafting laws in Ukraine, as law reform in Ukraine has been
slower than in Russia, and the civil, criminal, and family code all still
need revision and the draft of the new constitution is just now being discussed.
In the December 1995 elections, women's participation greatly increased: 70
ran, although only 2 were elected.
Since returning to Romania in September 1995 and her job as
a judge, Daniela was surprised to find things worse than 3 years ago. One
phenomenon she has noticed is that although there is a law against domestic
violence, this law tends to be used overwhelmingly by men and rarely by women.
Her hypothesis: women perceived that an accusation of domestic violence would
inevitably lead to a demand for divorce from the man, while the men used accusations
of domestic violence as power plays against women. So Daniela wondered whether
legislation against domestic violence was effective when women were considered
to be so subservient.
She has just received a $200,000 grant from the Ford
Foundation to create a national information service for all Polish women's
groups, a project that was created by 15 women's organizations. Through her
work at the Batory Foundation, the Polish Soros Foundation, she established
a women's program 3 years ago, focusing on domestic violence, sexual health,
and unemployment, and last December organized a meeting of 18 Soros foundations
throughout the region to establish women's programs in their foundations.
Reminded Dagmara that she had been active in the Beijing
committee and the group that created the women's status report. Urszula's
Women's Rights Center works in two areas: legislative and monitoring work,
and helping individual women. Several publication projects have been completed:
a booklet on women's rights in the constitution; a booklet "Knowing Your Rights"
for women about rights during the legal process against domestic violence;
a brochure on statistics on rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. The
WRC organized a conference on labor standards (to be held in June 1996) and
co-organized, with the women's caucus in Parliament, a workshop on women's
rights in the constitution June 1995. The WRC has challenged certain draft
legislation and is writing a petition on behalf of liberalizing the abortion
law. In December 1995, the WRC organized a tribunal on domestic violence,
with public testimony from 8 women; this tribunal received considerable media
attention. A booklet of the testimonies will be published. Out of this tribunal
will also come a project to train judges, police, and prosecutors on domestic
At the law school, Krisztina will teach the first course
on "Women and Criminal Law." Just taking students to court is educational.
As an attorney at COLPI, she ensures that women are included among its various
projects, eg., prisoners' rights shouldn't just be male prisoners. She is
also having her students compile international documents to show how such
documents support women's rights.
CSILLA KOLLONAY LEHOCZKY:
Csilla has begun teaching an interdisciplinary course,
"Women as a Minority," which has gotten a large and encouraging gender mix
in its enrollment. She wants to make this a year-long course and get it accepted
as official course. A recent 2-day conference on the role of gender issues
in education revealed to her how rigid gender roles are being taught at schools,
for example, that the role of woman is to keep the peace, while the role of
man is to support the family.
Founded Gender Project in Bulgaria, the first project to
translate and publish the Beijing Plan for Action and Bulgarian materials
for Beijing, funded by British Council. The next step is to distribute as
a brochure and send to governmental agencies and women activists. With the
Association of Bulgarian Women in Legal Careers, the Gender Project is drafting
the law on children's rights, and with the UNDP, a program on the gender aspect
of human rights.
LYDIA JANKOVIC GOTTLIEB:
As a consultant for Soros, Lydia has done research
on forced migration in Bosnia. Now with the international affairs office of
the Olympic Games in Atlanta, she is working with representatives from Eastern
Europe, who are all men. She is also working on adoption of children from
FSU; has met a woman from Shanghai, who was interested in NEWW; and worked
with a law student to set up a battered women's shelter in Bulgaria.
As a lawyer and sociologist, she founded the Center for
Socio-Legal Status of Women, at Institute of Arts and Sciences in Warsaw in
1990, which is now offering the first post-diploma 2-year program in Gender
Studies. In its first year, 10 courses are offered, with the 35 students now
enrolled taking 3 courses each semester. The Higher Education Support Program
provides some funding, the university provides space, but more funding is
needed. She is also working with the Women's Parliamentary Group to draft
an Equal Status Act, choosing to write a draft that goes into great detail.
Malgorzata is one of the experts revised the national Polish Platform for
Action on legal, education and media issues following Beijing.
Came to U.S. at the beginning of 1995 to finish oral
history project, with Barbara Engel, of 40 Russian women born before the 1917
Revolution. In Russia, her work in the first years of women's movement focused
on raising public consciousness against the rise of patriarchy. Recent developments
work directly with writing legislation or trying to prevent new institutions
that hinder equality. Last year, for example, women were able to change the
title and content of the bill that was called "the law on family planning"
to "the law on reproductive rights." The multitude of presidential decrees
led her to conclude that it was easy for the government to say good words
about women because it cost nothing. At local level, she noted, women doing
Nadezhda has been organizing many conferences. (1) "Women
in Law," conference sponsored by the Interregional Association of Women Lawyers,
comprising 12 departments in different regions of Russia, with lawyers, prosecutors,
researchers, policy makers, and students. The association offers free legal
consultations for women, invites other women's groups to work on current legislation.
Published 2 books, "Women, Children and Law" and "Women and Law," based on
last year's conference in Saratov, about existing local, national, and international
laws to protect rights. (2) With the Association of Women Journalists, conference
on women's rights as presented in national and local mass media, and also
drew attention of journalists to women's issues. Her group is now finishing
report on legal status of women in Russia; to prepare this report, asked many
regional organizations to send materials about violation of women's rights,
Replies from 435 women NGOs, among them 187 women's organizations with women's
rights orientation, all indicated desire to cooperate. "Now in Russia, thanks
to NEWW, we have a network, too."
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
Shana Penn, Urszula Nowakowska, and Isabel Marcus outlined NEWW's plans for
the future of the East-East Legal Committee, and invited a discussion on how
to develop these plans inside the countries represented and across the region.
Raise funds for the legal committee in each country to prepare legal status
reports, like those drafted by Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Poland.
Establish internships for recent graduates of law schools as well as summer
internships for law students to work with NGOs and legal centers in the region
or in Western Europe. Urszula is expecting 2 American students to work at
her Women's Rights Center this summer.
Begin the electronic legal resource service, with U.S. law students preparing
summaries of relevant laws and documents to be posted on-line, and with Russian
staff collecting and posting information on current legislation in the region.
Develop gender curricula with law faculties in summer school sessions.
Develop trainings for each country's legal committee in team building,
strategic planning, advocacy, transnational networking, etc.
Basic in these plans is the question of whether "Legal Committee" is the correct
name. Should this be a Committee? Should it be a Coalition? Given these kind
of projects, how might each country participate? Who else might be interested?
What would be needed to carry out any of these activities in your country?
These questions will be further addressed in the coming days.