While Belarusian women were receiving congratulations and flowers for the International Women’s Day, the team of the ICCI “Nash Dom” began to relaunch the “252 + 1” campaign. Let us remind you that it is dedicated to the abolition of the list of professions prohibited for women in Belarus. Although there are now fewer of them – 181 – we haven’t changed the name. And we will not cancel it until the list we inherited from the USSR disappears completely.

In 1918, the Labor Code of the RSFSR introduced a ban on the employment of women in some industries. In 1932, a list of “especially difficult and harmful jobs where the employment of women is prohibited” was drawn up. In the USSR, women were treated exclusively as a demographic resource and thus were concerned about increasing the birth rate.

By the early 1970s, the USSR had the highest level of employment for women of working age in the world and, at the same time, the lowest birth rate at that time. Therefore, the state decided to legislatively protect motherhood and develop family policy. In 1978, the “List of industries, professions and jobs with difficult and harmful working conditions, where the employment of women is prohibited,” appeared, in which 431 professions were fixed. The same list appeared a little later in all post-Soviet republics.

We couldn’t be happier that some professions did disappear from the list after it was revised in 2014. So, today women can work as aircraft mechanics – and there is a successful confirmation of this. The girl Olga has been working in the aviation technical brigade of Belavia for several years – and she copes with everything[1]. Also, female truckers are no longer something strange in Belarus. The first lady sat in the cab of a heavy goods vehicle in 2019 – the experiment was undertaken by “Janstrong”[2].

And women also take possession of tractors, despite the fact that this profession is included in the list of prohibited ones. For example, a tractor operator works in one of the farms in the Khoiniki region. There are women tractor drivers in the Salihorsk, Malarita and Dzerzhinsk districts. And they even made a small film about the tractor driver Ekaterina from the Kamenets district[3].

But still there are professions where Belarusian women are still not accepted. Our women cannot be crane operators, bulldozer drivers, excavators, they cannot butcher animal carcasses, work as wood splitters and carpenters. Ladies are even contraindicated in seemingly uncomplicated jobs such as processing cotton, washing wool and fleece, filling cosmetics (containing mercury precipitate) and picking fruit at heights above 130 centimetres.

And also our girls are not in the brigades of miners, divers, firefighters. Although a similar experience has been successful in other countries. In Ukraine, the profession of a firefighter was previously also prohibited. But in April 2020, female firefighters worked alongside men to put out giant fires in the Chernobyl zone. And female divers are successfully serving in the State Emergency Service[4].

The Belarusian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection has already thought about the abolition of prohibited professions.

“First of all, we work to reduce harmful and hazardous working conditions. Most likely, in the near future we will come to the conclusion that this list will be canceled,” said the head of the department Irina Kostevich in October 2020[5]. However, the new National Gender Equality Plan 2021-2025 only deals with a new shortening of the list.

An important fact: the list of professions prohibited for women violates the right to work guaranteed by Article 41 of the Constitution of Belarus. And it also prevents the equalization of wages for men and women – and their difference in Belarus reaches 30 percent in favor of the stronger sex. After all, they receive most of all in those areas where ladies are not allowed.

And finally, the coveted unit. Everything is simple here – a woman in Belarus cannot be … a president. At least, that’s what Alexander Lukashenko thinks. In May 2020, he once again confirmed this: “Our Constitution is not for a woman. And our society is not ripe to vote for a woman. The president will be a man, I am absolutely convinced of this[6].”

It is symbolic that it was a woman who defeated Lukashenko in the elections held in 2020. And even though he still has not recognized this victory, it is nevertheless obvious. And very soon Belarus will have a new, real president.