Treatment of elderly women, especially those who live alone, and the availability of state protection; whether the treatment and availability of protection is the same across the country [RUS33401.E]

No reports specific to the treatment of elderly women, particularly those living alone, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the following information may be useful.

Figures provided by Sergei Kiselyov, Russia's acting Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, indicate that pensioners comprise more than 20 per cent of Russia's population (UNGA 4 Oct. 1999; TASS 28 Apr. 1998). According to Kiselyov, public attitudes toward the elderly and the rights of the elderly are "not quite up to European standards" (ibid.). Kiselyov identified low incomes, loneliness and deteriorating health as the three problems most common among Russia's elderly (UNGA 4 Oct. 1999). Social policy researchers have also identified low incomes, lack of access to medical care and social isolation ("loneliness") as major problems for the elderly, especially for women (PRHI n.d.; National Library of Medicine 1998). Discrimination in employment is also a major problem (TASS 28 Apr. 1998).

According to figures compiled by the Statistics Division of the United Nations, in 1997 women in the 60+ age group outnumbered men nearly two to one in Russia (1997a). Of women in the 60+ age group, fully two-thirds (66 per cent) are not married, although it is not clear what percentage lives in one-person households (ibid. 1997b). Recent surveys conducted in Bashkortostan Republic and Orlovskaya Oblast found that problems related to income, work and health were concentrated in and most acute in one person-households, nearly all of which consisted of pensioners (2000 Plus 23 Apr. 1999).

According to Matina Vandenburg, former coordinator for the Newly Independent States' U.S. Women's Consortium, a Moscow-based umbrella group of women's organizations from Russia, other former Warsaw Pact states and the USA, unemployed women form a low-status female underclass that has been growing since the collapse of the Soviet Union (Los Angeles Times 6 Dec. 1997). The problem is particularly acute for less-educated women (ibid.). According to 1997 estimates, more than 70 per cent of the officially unemployed in Russia are women (ibid.; HRW Dec. 1997; IND Sept. 1999).

Sources indicate that female victims of domestic violence in Russia rarely have recourse to protection from the state (IND Sept. 1999; HRW Dec. 1997). The police have been singled out as being particularly unresponsive to the needs of women requesting protection (ibid.; IND Sept. 1999; Los Angeles Times 6 Dec. 1997).

For further information on the situation of women in Russia, including information on state protection, please see the following Human Rights Watch reports: Neither Jobs Nor Justice: State Discrimination Against Women in Russia (1995), and Too Little, Too Late: State Response to Violence Against Women (December 1997). Both reports are available in the Regional Documentation Centres.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Los Angeles Times. 6 December 1997. Vanora Bennett. "Violence Against Women in Russia Grows Worse." [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

National Library of Medicine. 1998. "Women's Health and Human Rights in Russia." [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

Public Research Health Institute (PRHI), Moscow. n.d. "The Forming of Priorities of State Policy Regarding the Elderly in Russia." [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

TASS. 28 April 1998. Lyudmila Yermakova. "Lawmakers Urge a State Program to Solve Veterans' Problems." (NEXIS)

2000 Plus. 23 April 1999 (last update). "Social Monitoring in Russia." [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

UK Home Office, Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). September 1999. Russian Federation: Country Assessment. rus4.htm [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). 4 October 1999. (GA/9624). "Elderly Should Not Be Seen as Depreciating Asset, General Assembly Told." plweb-cgi/ [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

United Nations Statistics Division. 1997a. "Table 1-2: Population Aged 60 and Over, 1997." [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

_____. 1997b. "Table 1-5: Percentage Never Married Among Persons Aged 45+ and Percentage not Currently Married Among Persons Aged 60+, by Sex, 1985/96." [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases.


World News Connection (WNC).

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International.

Centre for Civil Society International (CCSI).

East-West Electronic Documentation Centre.

Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Moscow Centre for Gender Studies.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Russia Today [Prague].

Slavic Research Centre.

Transitions [Prague].

Women Watch (United Nations).