A gendered analysis of the (self-) representation of the Belarusian pro-democracy leader of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sat9  Apr09:00am(10 mins)
Where:
Umney Theatre
Miss Ruta Skriptaite

Authors

Carole Spary, Ruta Skriptaite

Discussion

The project will explore several conceptual frames from the international scholarship on gender and political leadership to explain the significance of Tsikhanouskaya’s period in office. The sole fact of her popularity and role as the front-runner of the pro-democracy movement can be identified as a sign of change in gender dynamics of the society of Belarus, a country known for its deeply entrenched tradition of political patriarchy. Tsikhanouskaya, as the main challenger in the 2020 presidential run, offered a symbolic and substantive challenge to the leadership of president Lukashenka, in explicitly gendered terms but also on a pro-democracy platform, even though the election outcome was disputed. However, her declaration to discontinue her leadership role after a free presidential election has taken place coupled with her ostensibly modest regard for her own impact on Belarusian politics suggests limited disruption of gender norms in political leadership. Her leadership is even more significant given the recent increase in women’s movement activism and changing gender dynamics in Belarus, highlighting the much-debated relationship between women political leaders and women’s movements. The project shall explore narratives surrounding Tsikhanouskaya’s leadership, whether she had a role model effect on other women political activists, and her leadership as a case of pro-democracy, pro-human rights activism of women in challenging contexts of electoral authoritarianism.

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