Khabarovsk - The Search for Larisa
David and I took a night train from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk on Monday, arriving bleary-eyed after a fitful night. It's not easy to sleep on a rocking, creaking train hurtling through the darkness, but that's not why David slept badly. He could hear a man snoring in the next coupe over.
At the Khabarovsk train station, we were met by Yulia Kultaeva, the young woman who agreed to host us during our stay. Yulia spent a year in Illinois as a high-school exchange student in 1996, and her English is exceptional. She was excited to see us, having spent the previous few days reading through the entire 1995 Russian Chronicles site -- she even knew a few details from those stories that I'd forgotten myself.
We're in excellent hands with Yulia, who brought us to the offices of Winrock International, where she works, and let us use the DSL connection -- definitely a first for me in Russia! She's also trying to help me track down Larisa Fedotova, the young businesswoman I wrote about in 1995.
I've already tried several ways of finding Larisa: calling her phone numbers from 1995, Googling her, and calling her old employer, the Wm. JR Wrigley company. No luck so far. But with Yulia on the case, I'm hopeful we'll be able to track her down soon.
In the meantime, we talked with someone who remembers Larisa from the late '90s. Though Svetlana Zhukova, a deputy in the regional legislature and president of the Union of Businesswomen, could not tell us how to get in touch with Lisa, she was happy to discuss how things have changed for working women in Khabarovsk since 1995. Having started her own employment services company ten years ago, she was full of insights:
First of all, in a lot of positions, both women and men can now find higher-salaried jobs for their experience. That's the first thing. And of course, now people get their salaries paid on time. In 1995, people worked and then didn't get cash in hand when they should have -- especially those working in government services.
The quality of life is higher than it was in 1995. People are getting richer than they used to be.
I think women have more opportunities now. In 1995, there was more discrimination in employment. It was typical for a man to be hired for the top job, and for the women to have to fight to even be considered. Now the top job can go to a woman or a man; it's more democratic. It depends more on a person's experience and skills rather than gender.
It's true that for some positions, some companies still will only considering hiring a man. But we're seeing less and less of that every year.
We're still on the hunt for someone who knows how to find Larisa. Fingers crossed we'll find something more concrete tomorrow...
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Posted by: dastorhaug | September 8, 2005 05:35 PM
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Posted by: Mark | September 8, 2005 10:44 PM