Instability of Latvian men hinders high-achieving women

December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

The BBC report on women in Latvia

An interesting snapshot into post-Soviet Latvia here from the BBC. The country, which has 8% more women than men and more than ten years difference in life-expectancy, is struggling with the gender imbalance. The men are facing high levels of alcoholism and depression; the women have fewer choices of partners – leading to increased competition in a sense, with fewer men to go around.

As one Latvian woman puts it: “Here we have a war of beauty – the most beautiful wins” and certainly the BBC delights in showing a wave of trendy and well styled young women enjoying their work and social lives, rightly hailed as the country’s success stories.

The men, although referred to as the root of several of the country’s social problems, are sadly absent from the film.

What is filmed as basically a light-hearted piece (“Look how well these women are doing – although they’re all so beautiful and yet can’t find a boyfriend!”), it fails to address the real social issues at work. The transition to capitalism threw up many opportunities for women, but also placed a lot of pressure on men to succeed financially. The country has maintained its “macho” based culture  that puts pressure on men to drink, smoke, gamble, earn lots of money – to live fast. Consequently, the country has the highest rate of single-mothers in the EU, more than 80% of suicides are committed by men, and highly-educated and intelligent women are often left choosing to be alone or to leave the country rather than settle with a man they see as inferior. And there is a sadly inevitable issue with the underground sex trade and human trafficking, not to mention cases of domestic violence and women stuck in abusive relationships where they feel are unlikely to find another partner if they leave this one.

More focus on education would have a positive impact on future generations of both men and women, and help to maintain the country’s emerging economic successes.

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