Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Russian would-be captain Svetlana challenge sexist labour laws in court this month

In the 1930s and WW2, Soviet Russia was globally famous for its pioneering women captains such as Anna Shchetinina and Valentina Orlikova. They were exemplars. Their success and the respect they received inspired women everywhere. (See pics below and http://genderedseas.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/soviet-women-commanding-ships.html)

This month, 80 years on, Svetlana Medvedeva is struggling for the right to be captain. Her landmark legal campaign could mean women mariners get back the rights they won at a time when all hands were needed -- even women's.
Svetlana's case raises the issue of whether protective legislation is outmoded sexism. It highlights the persistent pattern that women are allowed opportunities to do 'men's work' when there is an under-supply of labour. They are permitted to fill gaps. And there are few gaps in the Russian maritime industry just now.
This is what Amnesty international, which backs Svetlana, said:
"31 August 2017. A trial that opens today and sees a 31-year-old female navigation officer sue a Russian shipping company who refused to employ her as a ship’s captain, represents a landmark challenge to Russia’s sexist and outdated labour regulations.
Svetlana Medvedeva graduated in 2005 as a navigation officer in Samara region. In 2012 she applied for a job as a ship’s captain by Samara River Passenger Enterprise, but the company’s initial consent to hire her was later retracted because of labour laws that restrict women from more than 400 professions.

The current list of professional occupations that are banned for women in Russia lists 456 occupations and 38 industries that are considered too “arduous,” “dangerous” or “harmful” to women’s health, in particular to their reproductive health.
The “prohibited” list was originally adopted in the USSR in 1974. It was confirmed in 2000 by Russian Government Regulation No. 162 which allowed for exemptions only if safe working conditions were established by the employer.
Svetlana Medvedeva challenged the rejection of her job application in court, seeking a judicial order to compel the company to establish safe working conditions and allow her to work in accordance with Regulation No. 162. However her claim was rejected.


In May 2013, she registered a complaint before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) alleging that her rights had been violated.
The complaint claimed that she had been denied employment by the company because of her sex, on the basis of a blanket prohibition.
On 25 February 2016, the CEDAW Committee found in favour of Svetlana Medvedeva and urged the Russian authorities to grant her appropriate compensation and to facilitate access to jobs for which she is qualified.

In July 2017 Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that her case should be re-opened. The trial begins today in Samara’s District Court. (see pic)
Amnesty International calls on Russia to comply with the CEDAW recommendation to amend Regulation No. 162 and to remove all arbitrary restrictions on women’s employment."

Seafarers Union of Russia said in 2012:

"In 2005 Svetlana graduated from Samara River Transport College. She specialized in Inland waterway and coastal navigation course. According to her certificate, Svetlana could work as a steerer-motorist. But when the girl tried to apply for a job on board m/s “Om-338” it turned out that Svetlana couldn’t be permitted to get it under the above Regulation.

Thus the situation became absurd as girls are allowed to get trained for specific professions but not to actually work in them.
Svetlana decided to fight and was alone at the beginning. She wrote to the President’s press-office that her constitution rights were violated and the letter was resend to the Federal Labour and Employment Service (which monitors the situation in the employment and compliance to labour laws, and etc.).
There it was explained to Svetlana that she could get the job in question provided that working conditions would comply with safety standards. After that Svetlana got in touch with the representatives of “Memorial” anti-discrimination centre and was recommended to appeal to court and complain against the SRPE for unsafe working conditions. Yet the court decided in favor of the enterprise, and this made Svetlana to write to SUR.
“My dream is to start working as a steerer- motorist, and then to join the Marine Engineering Department of Volzhsk State Academy”,- explains Svetlana.

Tatiana Sukhanova (pictured above), a deep sea captain from the Far East, says that “nowadays there are a lot of cases of gender discrimination in the fleet. More often then not, girls face difficulties when seeking a job, and even during their cadet practice.
This case shows gender discrimination because Svetlana is a bright girl who can successfully cope with her tasks, and even better than some boys do.” http://www.sur.ru/node/652
More on Tatiana's own struggle can be found at https://rusreality.com/2017/06/14/for-women-in-russia-are-closed-456-professions-a-truck-driver-an-assistant-captain-and-the-captain-about-how-they-overcame-this-ban/

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