Svetlana Medvedeva gained national attention after the Samara River Passenger Enterprise refused to hire her because of her gender. With assistance from with the St. Petersburg-based Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial (ADC) NGO, Medvedeva fought a five-year legal battle against the company. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recognized Russia’s banned jobs list as discrimination and even Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that the company had discriminated against Medvedeva by not hiring her.
Since 2017, Medvedeva has been working as a captain — one of the banned jobs for women — on a tow boat for a different shipping company. Despite her victory in the discrimination case, it took another three years for the government to pare down the banned jobs list for all women.
“I am very happy that the reality is already changing — women have started to be accepted for training in specialties that were formerly banned, including courses for metro drivers, and are being appointed to positions as ship mechanics and engineers,” Stefania Kulayeva, head of the ADC, told The Moscow Times. “Of course, from 2021 there will be many people who want to start working in these areas immediately.”
But 100 jobs will still be off-limits, including hazardous chemical handling, diving, mining, welding, firefighting and working as aviation mechanics.
Anti-discrimination advocates say the list of banned jobs should have been scrapped entirely, as it has been in fellow post-Soviet countries like Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The ADC’s #alljobs4allwomen campaign, started in March 2017 during Medvedeva’s discrimination case, is continuing to push for the list to be done away with entirely.
“Abolishing the bans on a number of very important and popular professions for women is undoubtedly a positive step, but it is not enough,” Kulayeva said. “Our goal is to abolish all discriminatory articles in labor codes and these lists of prohibited professions and types of work for women.”