Transitioning to the West: Gender Attitudes about Contraception and Pregnancy in a Former Soviet Union Country
Over the past 70 years former Soviet Union women have had relatively different reproductive lives and histories than their European counterparts. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union those countries that have European roots now have the possibility to transition toward a Western standard of living. Belarus is a country bordering Poland, and in three years time will likely be one of the countries just outside of the European Union borders. This article reports on the results of the National Survey of Belarusian Men's and Women's Reproductive Attitudes and Behaviors (Borkovskaya & Kurilovich, 2002) as well as a smaller qualitative study of one hundred and fifty women following their abortion experiences (Mufel, Speckhard, & Sivuha, 2002) and discusses how current attitudes and behaviors may influence or impede Belarusian women's transition into modern Western roles.
KEY WORDS: gender equality, reproductive behavior, gender stereotypes, abortion, fertility control, pregnancy.
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Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., and Natalia Mufel
Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical Center, Professor of Psychology, Vesalius College, Free University of Brussels, and psychological consultant of Advances in Health. She lived in Belarus with her husband the U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, from 1997 to 2000 during which time part of this research was conducted at the Belarusian/American Women's Center. She currently resides at 3 Avenue des Fleurs, 1150 Brussels, Belgium, mail from U.S. to PSC 81, Box 135, APO AE 09724. E-mail: Aspeckhard@brutele.be
Natalia Mufel served as psychologist for Women's Wellness Center, and for the Women's Independent Movement Project in Minsk, Belarus during the period of this research and also works as vice-president and psychologist of the NGO "Woman and Family" and lectures at European Humanities University in Minsk. She is a Ph.D. aspirant in Belarusian State University. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Collaboration between the two researchers is supported by a grant from the NATO Science Programme, Collaborative Linkage Grant No 978603.