Dr. Marina Sorokina, Head of the Department of History at Alexander Solzhenitsyn Center for the Study of the Russian Diaspora, spoke about Russia`s best practices on implementing the SDG #5: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering all Women and Girls. Marina’s presentation gave a careful but precise reflection on women scholars in exile, women and immigration. Russians has had three major waves of migration abroad since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. During this Bolshevik Revolution and civil war many people were forced to migrate as refugees. The second wave was during the World War II and the third migration came after the Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost (1984). The underlying factor for migration of Russians out of their homeland and traditional environment was the pressure of the political persecution. They found new homes in many countries in the world, in Latin America, especially in Brazil. From these migrants a number of schools were founded and scientists have emerged from these emigrants.
It is because of these scholars in exile that attention is drawn towards, especially in relation to the larger immigration wave that hit Europe during the Nazi regime (1934-1945). The academic works have faithfully kept records of immigrants out of Europe to the rest of the world. In Contrast, there is very little scholarly information on the Russian academic migration in the 20th century.
For many years, refugees, invalids and dissidents were hidden groups which were ignored by the Soviet authorities, civil society groups and left out of public memory. Only today, historians have shifted their study to these groups. When you read their life stories, each one of them is a rich story worth studying in detail. The life story of one of the very interesting women scholars in exile, is Helen Antipov. Russian born Brazilian psychologist and educator, founder of the System of Support to Disabled Children. Her life is very important in our perspective.
Why Helen Antipov? As many other women refugee scholars were searching for professional employment in the changing European environment, Brazil opened the window of opportunities for her and many other humanist scholars and scientists. Russia, Switzerland, Brazil marked not only the geographical shift of the immigrant scholar positions but reflected new communications. The ways how the European scholarly approaches and techniques were applied to the new institutions before World War II. The role of the immigrant scholars and specially women immigrant scholars were pioneering in this process. As such, the story of Antipov, contributes to gender and immigration history, to the social history of psychology and human rights. But it also demonstrates the ways the formation of very strong and persistent transnational or international network of scholars whose professional biographies on the level of concepts and ideas grew up from multicultural, intellectual components and traditions.
Antipov’s work and the work of many Russian refugee women reflect a strong commitment with the achievement in human ideals that reflect on social justice and happiness. As a scientist, director of one of the first laboratories of psychology established in Brazil, she worked hard to knowing Brazilian children better and oriented herself to their education system to achieve good results. Following the guidelines of the Geneva Declaration of Children’s Rights issued by the League of Nations in 1924, she focused on education as a right in itself. In her view, schools were not supposed to provide the limited citizenship consciousness. On the contrary, citizenship was seen as a consequence of a steady support for the development of the children’s capacities.
With the experience she had during the war and revolution in Europe, Helen Antipov strove for harmony and peace in the community. In her view, social harmony would be attained if each individual was given the opportunity to develop [her/his] own calling. In this development, education had a central role in the lives of children. This was a brief presentation of an example where women have become great role models to transformation through the women’s corps in the contemporary world.