To hold out her work, Evgenia Markova had to make use of an assumed identify and keep below the radar of the authorities. The 36-year-old is just not a spy however somewhat a truck driver – a career that was banned for ladies in Russia till early this 12 months.
Whereas the start of the Soviet Union was forward of a lot of the West in integrating girls into the office, a Seventies decree banned them from lots of of professions, so – saying for his or her security and to guard their “reproductive capacities”.
The legislation was up to date by President Vladimir Putin in 2000, overlaying not solely jobs in heavy trade and transportation, but in addition positions as various as a paratrooper, automobile mechanic and even a maker of some musical devices.
As of this month, greater than 300 jobs have been opened as much as girls, following a marketing campaign, which suggests Ms Markova’s job is now solely above the board.
“These modifications are actually essential, they present what is feasible and that even strict Russian legislation may be rewritten,” Ms Markova informed The Telegraph.
“There is no such thing as a purpose why girls shouldn’t be allowed to do these jobs.”
The Moscow Metro allowed girls to drive for the primary time in its latest historical past, with 12 of them now engaged on the community. The nationwide railway firm mentioned earlier it was coaching 10 girls to develop into assistant drivers.
Ms Markova, a former programmer at Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, set out in 2014 to satisfy her long-term dream of changing into a truck driver.
“I like the street, I like lengthy distances,” she says.
After a 12 months of working for herself, she transferred to a small trucking firm.
The corporate ignored the ban on feminine drivers, however issued her wage paperwork within the identify of the person “Evgeny Markov”. She joked that she ought to have taken credit score on behalf of the person after which disappeared.
It wasn’t till Ms Markova appeared for work at a bigger firm a number of years later that she bumped into issues, with potential employers saying they weren’t ready to bend the principles.
She subsequently left to drive to Europe, which she discovered “too small” after the huge expanses of her nation of origin. She returned to Russia final 12 months after authorities mentioned they might not impose fines on firms hiring girls in prohibited positions.
Ms Markova confused that many ladies have been already in such jobs however had no “social safety” earlier than the legislation was modified.
“In case you are pregnant, your employer doesn’t should pay a wage as a result of it isn’t lined. There have been circumstances the place the women weren’t getting their wages in any respect they usually could not go to court docket as a result of they weren’t supposed to do that job.
The marketing campaign to vary the legislation started in 2012 when educated navigation officer Svetlana Medvedeva, now 34, was refused a job in a ship firm on the premise of her gender.
“After I began my coaching, nobody informed me about these prohibited professions,” recollects Ms. Medvedeva. “Everybody signed me up for the job. It was simply throughout a final assembly with the human assets division that they informed me I could not do it. I used to be shocked.”
After this assembly, Ms Medvedeva launched a five-year authorized battle towards the corporate. A UN committee finally dominated that she had been discriminated towards and referred to as on Russia to finish its ban on girls in sure roles.
Ms Medvedeva now works as a ship captain for an additional firm, the place she says she has by no means encountered any issues.
“My colleagues deal with me precisely the identical as a person in the identical place,” she mentioned.
However regardless of the revised checklist, round 100 jobs are nonetheless formally closed to girls, many in mining and oil manufacturing. Such lists nonetheless exist in a number of former Soviet nations, akin to Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Truck driver Ms Markova mentioned she knew Russian girls who have been already working in mining however have been reluctant to launch an analogous marketing campaign for his or her rights for concern of dropping their jobs.
“It is horrible, it is a disgrace that we nonetheless have such an inventory,” she mentioned. “However these women work in smaller cities the place there aren’t that many various choices.”
Elena Lysenko-Saltykova, who has been working as a driver for a suburban practice firm for 3 years with the help of her “progressive” employers, mentioned it was not doable to “change every part” instantly.
“Our society wants time to adapt, lots of people are simply not able to see girls in these sorts of jobs but,” added the 25-year-old.
Ms Lysenko-Saltykova, nevertheless, predicted a wave of girls becoming a member of professions that are actually formally open. “The essential factor is that the state has taken step one.”