Gaining Voice: Exploration of Opportunities and Threats for Feminist and Women’s Grassroots Organizing in Putin’s Russia

Sat9  Apr11:00am(10 mins)
Umney Theatre


Natalia Kovyliaeva


In the last decade, numerous feminist and women’s mobilizations have become visible and recognizable in the public discourse around the globe. While the Western feminist movements gained instant popularity and successfully pushed towards political changes in their home countries, the situation was quite different for similar movements in non-democratic political settings. This article focuses on the opportunity structures and threats and understands their role in the feminist and women’s grassroots organizing in Russia from 2000 to 2021. By applying the existing theories of opportunity structures (political, digital, or discursive), the theory of threats and extensive analysis of various data, this article aims to empirically contribute to the study of a rarely examined case – feminist and women’s organizing in a non-democratic post-Soviet setting. Based on the semi-structured interviews with the activists, online ethnography of social media communities, and publicly available data on women’s rights in Russia, it argues that the emergence of digital opportunity structures and their availability to the activist groups have compensated for the lack of political and discursive ones. The digital opportunity structure has become a new politicized discursive arena for activists’ deliberation and organizing and contributed to the visibility and recognizability of these groups in the public discourse. 

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