[b]Belarus ranked 34th in World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report, outstripping many post-Soviet countries and, even, European states[/b]In her childhood, Lyudmila dreamt of becoming a stewardess or … a sailor. As an adult, she understood that travel is a ‘magic key’ opening doors and defying the impossible. “My dream has come true,” she smiles. “My profession revolves around travel, so I’ve found my magic key.” Lyudmila Orlova is a camera operator, which many people view as a man’s job.
In her childhood, Lyudmila dreamt of becoming a stewardess or … a sailor. As an adult, she understood that travel is a ‘magic key’ opening doors and defying the impossible. “My dream has come true,” she smiles. “My profession revolves around travel, so I’ve found my magic key.” Lyudmila Orlova is a camera operator, which many people view as a man’s job.
She first entered the Linguistic University but soon lost interest in German grammar. Then, she returned to her school hobby of photography, taking her works to the Camera Art Chair at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. “We were told by the admission commission that anyone could enrol and receive equal opportunities but, after graduation, it might be difficult for girls to find a job. Some changed their minds as a result but I was determined to go all the way,” recollects Lyudmila.
She had no problems with her studies and was lucky to have good teachers and fellow students. Lyudmila passed her internship at Mir TV and Radio Company. She then worked as a third operator and has recently become the second camera operator.
“In summer, I was shooting a report at Dudutki at Our Grunewald Festival. I was a little afraid of the frisking horses because, looking through the viewfinder, I become so involved in the process that I began to misjudge my distance. ”
Lyudmila may look like a teenager but she isn’t as vulnerable as she appears. The camera weighs some 13kg (with tripod and trunk) but it’s no problem for her; she is determined to become a true professional.
Lyudmila Orlova is a good example of gender equality in action — as assessed by the World Economic Forum’s annual rating. Belarus is now ranked 34th, above many post-Soviet countries and, even, European states. Do we deserve applause or should we still be working towards improving gender equality — responsible for shaping so many lives?
Taking a casual retrospective look at gender equality, we can’t help but mention the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. He determined its essence, saying: ‘Anatomy is destiny’. He believed that men were inevitably created to guide the fate of the world — as state figures and husbands. Meanwhile, women were destined to take second place — governing the kitchen and children. Since anatomy cannot be changed, he stressed that destiny could not be changed either.
However, not all women agree! Belarusian history is littered with strong women — such as Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya and Anastasia Slutskaya. Not long ago, women stood at the revolutionary barricades. They’ve occupied top positions and are just as comfortable driving a tractor or piloting a plane as their male colleagues. From Freud’s time, it took more than a century for women to be granted legal equality with men; of course, equality of rights is the not the same as equality of opportunities.
Nevertheless, women’s destinies are changing — against Freud’s prediction. Calculating the gender equality index, the WEF compares opportunities open to men and women in four spheres: political empowerment, employment and career promotion, educational attainment and healthcare. This year, the difference in opportunities for men and women is being given more gravitas than living conditions. Women enjoy greatest opportunities in Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand. Belarus is outranked only by Latvia and Lithuania from the post-Soviet countries, while neighbouring Russia occupies 51st position. Our country also outstrips Bulgaria, Austria, Portugal and Poland.
Of course, it’s good that foreign experts are praising opportunities for women in Belarus. Certainly, there is reason for optimism; today, women account for over 30 percent of deputies at the National Assembly and around 45 percent on local councils. Women are also found at top level official positions. They account for almost half of all teachers and over 70 percent of heads of educational establishments are women. Gender equality legislation is part of the Family and Marriage Code, as well as the Labour Code.
Some would argue that equality is a double-edged sword. Certainly, today’s women have more opportunities than ever before. Nonetheless, they inevitably face the challenge of looking after a family while pursuing their career. Compromise is the result. While women struggle to balance home and work life, taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them, men tend to take a back seat. Few would dare question a woman’s right to pursue her goals — becoming a camera operator, a parliamentarian or a mother. However, they do little to practically support these goals. To give women truly equal opportunities with men, further legislation and support networks are needed. No doubt, this will take time and great consideration. Meanwhile, each woman must find her own way of fulfilling her goals, finding her own magic key…
By Lyudmila Kuslivaya