Russische Föderation: Elena Ershova

Mother Theresa used to cure sick people; we are trying to cure a sick society.

— Elena Ershova

Elena Ershova, holder of a Master's degree in International Relations and a PhD in History, has for over 20 years been a researcher with the Institute for US and Canada Studies in Moscow. Today she is an active campaigner for peace and women's rights. Closely cooperating with both governmental structures and NGOs, she promotes gender equality and peace. Elena has been working with the US Agency of International Development in the field of gender and development. She has participated in numerous conferences and has published widely on gender issues and on the peace movement.

The experience of studying the antiwar movement in the USA and of engaging in contact with pacifists has had a huge impact on Elena's life. When she left the Institute for US and Canada Studies in 1993, she decided to work free-lance and to establish an independent women's organization. She became one of the founders of a movement that advocated for true and genuine equality of opportunity. Soon thereafter, the movement turned into an independent force in Russia with Konsortsyum zhenskikh nepravitielstvennykh assotsyatsyi (Consortium of Women's Non-governmental Associations), Elena's main creation, as one of its major components. Elena's experience has helped her secure grants from the US Agency of International Development (Usaid) to implement her projects. When Elena created the Consortium, she was already a mature woman with established views and solid knowledge. The Consortium eventually turned into a network association with federal status and at present comprises 166 organizations from over 50 regions in the country. All of them are grass-roots initiatives created by women. The Consortium's mode of operation is based on horizontal, rather than vertical, relationships among the organization's members, and functions as a network of equal partners. The Consortium conducts a dialog with the government on the most acute social problems. Elena views this cooperation with the authorities as a great opportunity to change the rules of the game in society and help overcome multiple barriers in the way of democratization in Russia, including the still remaining practice of discrimination against women. Elena believes that without equal rights for women, it is impossible to change the existing world of violence and social inequality, and make it more humane.

Konsortsyum zhenskikh nepravitielstvennykh assotsyatsyi (Consortium of Women's Non-governmental Associations)