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EU > Lithuania > Klaipeda

What Women Want

Klaipeda, LT (View on map)

Women make up more than half of the Lithuanian population. Statistically, that would also mean they make up half of the working class but they do not. Women still tend to get paid less then men if they have the same job. On top of that, it is more difficult for them to get access to high-level company jobs: two good reasons to find out more about the position of women in Lithuania.

Agne (18):

`Some jobs may be more suitable for men than they are for women. But the opposite is just as true`
At the beginning of children`s educational career, things are not much different whether they are a boy or a girl. Education is mixed and only physical education is likely to be different for boys and girls. Girls do gymnastics, while basketball is most popular with boys. After primary school and secondary school, an equal number of men and women enter and finish university. Then, after school or studies, the distinction between men and women begins to show. Risk averse employers are less willing to take on young women, because of the risk they get pregnant soon. Pregnancy leave can last up to 3 years, and hardly any employer would be willing to find replacement for such a long period of time. Fortunately for the company bosses, many women do not take the maximum leave. Although men are officially also entitled to take time off after the birth of their child, it is quite uncommon to do so for a long time. It is certainly not encouraged by employers.

Apart from the pregnancy risk, the general idea is that women are less suitable for higher positions in companies or in politics. It is not only men who confirm this prejudice to me - many of the girls agree as well. Agne (18, photo) thinks that some jobs are more suitable for women than others. Bar work is included in that, and doctors or teachers are also more likely to be female than male. Being a company director or politician requires a certain harshness that may be less appropriate for women.

Selection criteria
The differences in jobs and salaries reach further than the working floor alone. Agne tells me about the selection criteria women have for men. It is generally accepted that a man should have a good job or at least have an outlook on one. Second, if listing things in this way makes sense, is intellect, followed by physical appearance. On men`s wish list, physical appearance comes first, independence second. It`s also largely appreciated if women are good at domestic tasks because it is unlikely that men will participate in those. I check this later during the day with another Agne (also 18) and Darius (33). They tell me that the best and most likely place for youngsters to meet potential partners is at a club, at school or during studies. Sport fields may also be an interesting place for single youngsters. As Arthuras (21) puts it: `If girls come and watch your basketball game, you can be sure that they are not there for the basketball. Ruta (22) tells me that `lonely heart` ads are not very popular. Her boyfriends calls them plain stupid, because `it is not a way of getting to know somebody`.

Arthuras adds that traditions are slowly changing. People tend to get married at a later age and sometimes live together before that. Darius adds that living together may be an option, but getting babies before being married is quite mal-perceived. He says that many of the young couples marry for this reason, mostly as a result of pressure by the girl`s parents. Roman (21) says that being with his girlfriend Kristina (18) is all about understanding: understanding himself and understanding others. Like Arthuras, he thinks that many people marry for the tradition, but Roman things that`s not necessarily a good thing. A lot of people get married and have children only because of the tradition. They don`t think about it, they just do it because they look around themselves and think or get told that `it`s about time`.

Traditions versus freedom
I have been able to collect a lot of different opinions today. Altogether, they make a nice and realistic impression of a country in transition. People enjoy the freedom to start doing things different from previous generations, but they are hesitant to find their way. Feminism is not mainstream in Lithuania and it seems for now that women accept their current role in society: that of mothers before workers. The men`s primary duty is to gain a decent income and spend the maximum possible leisure time with his family.

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