Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cultural Note 4 Revisited: On women in Latvia

I must say, this is the first time that I visit a country were women are the center of any possible activity in society. I've heard about women in Latvia been much more active in different economic, social, and every day circles than men... this is an understatement. I've never been surrounded by so many motivated women eager to always improve themselves, find the next thing, and been completely outgoing and outspoken. I must be honest, I loved it!!

I shared with you
before how hard was for me to engage men in conversation while doing the interviews for the research. Well, with women I didn't have that problem and actually the problem became having enough time to capture their experiences and motivation with the e-skills training, enough time to capture their stories. I tried my best.

I asked during my interviews why women seem to be more active than men and more willing to learn new things and a I got a wide range of responses influenced, of course, by people's own stories and personal experiences. However, my interpreter Gatis, a very nice smart men by the way, explained to me that during Soviet times the collectivization of work brought women into spheres that were solely dominated by men (factories, farms, etc).

The Soviets even created an award called The Labor Hero to be granted to all those men and women whose hard work - work as in labor - had made a difference in their communities.The younger generation of women for whom the Soviet occupation is a historical memory are taken this full participation to heart too.

In the centers we visited during our research, almost all the trainees, trainers, and NGO workers were women of all ages. All of those demanding the NGOs to provide more e-skills training programs were women. There is something about labor heroes, I guess.
Once again, the advantage of having good interpreters and local friends for that cultural immersion!

(My thanks to Katya Fedotova for the correction on my note)

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