Expert meeting and international seminar on women's social integration and prison in Nordic countries and Russia

The Nordic-Russian co-operation project for the social integration, prevention of marginalisation, and protection of human rights for female prisoners culminated in an expert meeting and international seminar «Women`s integration and prison in Nordic countries and Russia» in St. Petersburg on August 22-24, 2019.

The one-year pilot project (1.8.2018 – 31.10.2019) funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers' Nordic-Russian co-operation programme culminated into a final expert meeting and international seminar in August in St. Petersburg, Russia. The final expert meeting gathered up the project participants to sum up the results of the project and to plan for future cooperation.

International seminar "Women's integration and prison in Nordic countries and Russia"

The seminar took place in the Finnish Institute on 23 August, 2019. It was organized by Maria Sagitova from the Russian project partner, Center for international and informational exchanges in sphere of human rights ("Enlightenment") and project leader Larisa Kangaspuro from the Centre for Nordic Studies and the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki. It was supported by the Consulate General of Finland in St Petersburg and the Finnish Institute in St-Petersburg.

The seminar was opened by panel session on “Nordic-Russian co-operation and Women's rights” including presentations by Consul Sebastian Gahnström from the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg, Director of the Finnish Institute in St-Petersburg Sani Kontula-Webb, Head of the St. Petersburg ombudsman's office Olga Shtannikova and, Professor Peter Stadius, head of CENS.

Professor Stadius underlined that the ‘New Nordic Studies’ approach with strong stress on comparison and transfer-studies could take the Russia and Russian experiences much more into consideration. There are severe asymmetries in the spatial orientation of most Nordic Studies related research, oriented rather towards the west that towards the east. When seeking best practices, bench-marking and exchange of collective historical experiences, there is much still to be done between the Nordics and Russia.

The second session presented the work of project experts on social inclusion of female prisoners and cooperation between authorities, educational research institutions and NGOs on the field. In addition, director of the Governmental institution “Crises center for women” Marina Grechishkina talked on social assistance and re-socialisation for female ex-prisoners in St-Petersburg.

Final expert group meeting

The final expert group meeting gathered up the project participants to sum up the results of the project and to plan for future cooperation. The presentation of the youngest participant of the project, Master’s Student Anastasia Alekhina from the Petrozavodsk State University, stood out recognizing the benefits of 'inter-generational' discussion and cooperation. She discussed the personal road map, which could be developed for every woman who came to the Petrozavodsk State University’s legal clinic providing free legal assistance to socially vulnerable groups asking for help. It would help a convicted woman to return to social life with minimal risks for her.

In addition to project member presentations an address was given by Tatiana Bakulina, chair of the NGO “Names +”.  Names +” is working in prisons on social and medical rehabilitation, HIV/AIDs prevention and treatment, social inclusion programs. Bakulina presented their work and talked about the positive changes in the rehabilitation of prisoners in Russia during last 20 years. Bakulina is also a member of the Civil Observation Commission under Department of correction of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation realizing control on human rights in prisons and other detention institutions.

In addition to the seminar a working visit was organized to non-governmental organization “RADOMIRA” working with vulnerable children, women and families at risk of social marginalisation, prevention and rehabilitation of youth. RADOMIRA is a member of the board of “Women’s Alliance” – organization uniting more than 60 women’s organizations of St-Petersburg and Leningrad region. The project team also met Rima Sharifullina, director of the Legal Center “St-Petersburg’s EGIDA” and also a member of the Human rights Council under the Governor of St-Petersburg and leader of the St-Petersburg “Women’s club”.

The leader of the project Dr Larissa Kangaspuro closed the expert meeting summarizing the main results of the project. The project results will be disseminated at the panel session “Towards a brighter future! Social and legal adaptation in Russia” organized by the project leader Dr Larisa Kangaspuro at the 2019 Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) to be held 23 – 26 November in San Francisco. She will present the paper “Social inclusion of female ex-prisoners. Russian experience”.

Download the entire programme here

Larisa Kangaspuro, Centre for Nordic Studies and Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki

Natalia Ermishina, Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk

Kristin Kongelf, Stiftelsen Kvinnekollektivet ARKEN, Oslo

Anastasia Alekhina, Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Russia

Consul Sebastian Gahnström from the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg 

Olga Shtannikova, Department of Ombudsman of St-Petersburg

Peter Stadius, Centre for Nordic Studies at the University of Helsinki

 Sani Kontula-Webb, The Finnish Institute in St-Petersburg

Marina Grechishkina, Crises center for women, St. Petersburg

Tatiana Bakulina, Names+