chapter  7
26 Pages

Women’s lives in transition: ‘everything gets better but nothing is good’

ByBettina van Hoven

Socialist ideology throughout the former Soviet Union and eastern and central Europe portrayed women as an indispensable and integral part of society. The position of women and their contribution to socialism was established by means of political rhetoric and various policies for the ‘advancement’ and ‘liberation’ of women. The extent to which policies were translated into real means for women’s education and employment or the provision of services to alleviate their household duties, for example, varied across socialist countries. In spite of such measures, it has been asserted that the implementation of socialist ideologies into everyday life resulted in a multiple role for women. This role as worker-motherpolitical being caused women to experience a double or triple burden (Corrin 1992; Einhorn 1993). Due to the unchanged gender contract in the private sphere and the allocation of women in lower-paid jobs and less meaningful political positions, many commentators have argued that women were never truly emancipated under socialism (Einhorn 1989; Marx-Ferree 1993; Kolinsky 1996).