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Feminist News


September-23-99

Women in Eastern Europe Face Poverty, Abuse, Barriers to Reproductive Health

Wednesday, Unicef reported on conditions for women in Eastern Europe, after an extensive study of 27 countries in the former Soviet Union. While acknowledging that communist policies did not ensure equality between women and men, Unicef concluded that current conditions for women are worse than those under Soviet rule. Economic decline and the collapse of state-supported social services are contributing to an increase in unemployment and poverty for women. Over the last decade, 56% of jobs lost in Eastern Europe were jobs held by women, and women continue to be concentrated in low-paid, part-time positions. Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant, with one of every 100 girls infected with syphilis in Russia and three other countries. Increasing trafficking in women, coupled with a lack of access to contraceptives and reproductive health options, exacerbates the situation. In addition, womens representation in legislative bodies has shrunk by about a third in many of the countries investigated. A hopeful note is a noticeable rise in the number of women entrepreneurs and grass-roots organizations dedicated to the elimination of domestic violence.

Media Resources: New York Times - September 23, 1999