A significant number of women serve in the Russian military, recent statistics indicate. They are, however, concentrated in only a few support fields. They also lag far behind their male colleagues in reaching higher rank and command positions.
Of the more than 120,000 women serving in the armed forces (10 percent of the whole), only some 3,100 are officers (a disproportionate 2.5 percent). Despite the promotion of former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova to major general of aviation (she is now retired), no flag or general officers are women. Fewer than ten women hold the rank of colonel, only sixty-seven are lieutenant colonels. Two-thirds of the 3,100 female officers are doctors — which reflects more than anything else the traditional prominence of women in Soviet medicine. Some 31,000 of the female personnel serve as warrant officers.
Russian servicewomen serve next most frequently as radio telegraph and telephone operators, and in similar support and staff positions. Otherwise they seem mostly engaged in "educational and cultural work", that is, as sportswomen or performers in choruses, dance groups and the like. Nearly one-half of all contract service personnel are women, many of these being officers’ wives or divorced women with small children.
In what was described as the first official investigation to see if the rights of the women serving in the armed forces were being observed, the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office recently found that one out of every four women in uniform complained of discrimination. The officials were surprised, however, when few women complained of sexual harassment — even in an anonymous questionnaire. One commentator observed this was probably because they were so used to "loutishness and indecent proposals" from men and were so "crushed and downtrodden in their everyday lives and struggle for their families’ survival" that they didn’t think it worth mentioning. (Segodnya, March 5; Izvestia, February 26)
Yeltsin to Meet with North Caucasus Elders.