Superwomen and the Double Burden: Women's Experience of Change in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union


297 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-929005-34-1
DDC 305.4'0943





Edited by Chris Corrin

Alexandra Sosnowski is an associate professor of Slavic Studies at the
University of Manitoba.


This is a collection of six essays on the situation of women in the
“Soviet-styled” societies. Although the work focuses on Russia and
Hungary, it presents an equally balanced overview of women’s
conditions in other countries of the former Soviet bloc: Czechoslovakia,
East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. The essays justly emphasize
women’s experience of the political changes, since it was the former
system that dominated most spheres of life and put a double burden on
women by viewing their emancipation in terms of labor-force

The essays address three main areas—women as producers (workers) and
reproducers (mothers), decision-makers, and private individuals. As
editor Chris Corrin writes, they are “an introduction to the
theoretical, official and actual situations of women in the formerly
‘Soviet-type’ countries.” The essays also attempt to posit future
trends associated with this issue.

The material is organized in concise encyclopedic entries that,
although repetitive, allow for quick reference and easy comparison. The
countries under consideration are grouped on the basis of economic
similarities. Thus, the opening studies on Hungary (Chris Corrin),
Poland (Jolanta Plakwicz), and the former Czechoslovakia (Mita
Castle-Kanerova) are followed by those on the former GDR (Barbara
Einhorn) and Yugoslavia (Milica Antic) and, finally, Hilary
Pilkington’s essay on the position of women in the former USSR.

The collection ends with a useful factual appendix. One could make an
argument for the book’s incompleteness (the exclusion of Romania and
Bulgaria), or question the reliability of its methodology vis-а-vis
data-gathering. The merit of the collection lies in its portrayal of a
system that made women “second-class citizens.”


“Superwomen and the Double Burden: Women's Experience of Change in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,