Evgenia Magurina with her Aeroflot uniform
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Aeroflot flight attendant Evgenia Magurina noticed her revenue drop when she didn’t meet the airline’s costume dimension requirement

For Aeroflot it was an try at a picture makeover that went unsuitable.

When Russia’s nationwide airline determined to hyperlink the pay of its flight attendants to their costume dimension, Evgenia Magurina was outraged.

“I used to be in shock at first. It did not make sense. How may they minimize pay, due to your dimension?” the stewardess remembers at her Moscow flat, near the airport. “They mentioned the ‘success’ of a stewardess depends upon her dimension, and that basically offended me,” she says, mentioning that she had seven years’ expertise on the airline.

Aeroflot strenuously denies discrimination. However its method appears notably odd in Russia, 100 years after a revolution which prided itself on selling equality.

Final 12 months, cabin crew on the airline have been measured and photographed. Evgenia Magurina says she was advised she had “huge cheeks and a giant bust” and will put on a sports activities bra.

Then in October she seen that her bonus pay had been docked. She had additionally been faraway from extra profitable, long-haul flights.


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When she confronted her bosses she was advised she did not meet the dimensions restrict Aeroflot had set for its cabin crew: a Russian dimension 48, a few UK 14 or US 12.

Evgenia Magurina says a whole bunch of different flight attendants suffered the identical remedy, dubbing themselves the STS membership after the Russian phrases for outdated, fats and ugly.

As an alternative of lengthy journeys to New York, they joked that they’d been relegated to nighttime flights across the Russian metropolis of Novgorod, “so no-one will see us”.

Dealing with a minimize of some 30% in her pay, Evgenia Magurina determined to sue.

“They put look in first place. However stewardesses are rescuers above all,” she insists. “Think about if they’d the identical necessities for judges or medical doctors? It could be absurd.”

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Amid the throng of calls for that drove the Russian revolution in 1917 was girls’s suffrage – right here girls march with a banner studying “voting rights for girls”

Russian girls obtained the vote in 1917; abortion was legalised quickly after. And in a vastly symbolic transfer, the united states despatched the primary feminine cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova into area.

However years on, flight attendants aren’t the one girls going through discrimination right here.

Within the central Russian metropolis of Samara, Svetlana Medvedeva has been barred from a job captaining a ship.

In 2012, she was employed as a ship pilot and mechanic however the supply was withdrawn when the agency’s HR division intervened. It realised it couldn’t make use of her as a result of she was feminine.

In actual fact, 456 professions are off limits for girls in Russia, labelled as harmful or supposedly dangerous to their reproductive well being. That features driving a practice, preventing fires or working as a carpenter.

“I would perceive in the event that they have been actually nervous about pregnant girls, however they do not even contemplate whether or not a girl is pregnant, or plans to be,” Svetlana Medvedeva factors out on a small motor boat on the extensive, uneven river Volga. As we discuss, an extended, low passenger ferry sails previous – the boat she was barred from engaged on.

Svetlana Medvedeva has been disputing that call via the courts ever since.

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Russia’s ban on girls working in 456 professions is an instance of patriarchy in motion, Svetlana Medvedeva thinks

“Russia is a patriarchal nation. Any motion on girls’s rights is backwards,” she argues. “This record of professions speaks for itself.”

Launched in 1974, the record was confirmed in 2000 and permits exceptions provided that an employer can show they’ve made situations secure – particularly for girls. In follow, few need the effort or price of proving that.

“I do not know a single [piece of] analysis that helps this concept of defending girls by forbidding professions. I do not assume that is the rationale,” says historian Irina Roldugina from the Increased College of Economics.

She factors out that the record got here simply as a brand new era of post-Soviet girls have been discovering their unbiased toes.

“Ladies began to see themselves as absolutely fledged residents, and this was seen as an issue,” Irina Roldugina argues.

In February 2016, the UN’s anti-discrimination physique dominated that Svetlana Medvedeva had been denied work unfairly on the premise of her gender.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination towards Ladies (CEDAW) says Russia has a “ethical obligation” to implement its suggestion to revise the roles record, however admits that’s not legally binding.

The Supreme Court docket did order Svetlana Medvedeva’s case re-opened although and this week a decide in Samara is predicted to succeed in a verdict.

In the meantime again in Moscow, Evgenia Magurina has already had her day in court docket.

Aeroflot’s legal professionals tried to defend the minimize in her bonus pay by arguing that each additional kilo of weight price the airline extra in gas. Additionally they claimed their coverage was primarily based on slim airplane corridors and its crews’ well being, not purely their look.

However the decide declared the airline’s pay coverage unlawful, leaving Evgenia Magurina hugging her mates and legal professionals in tears of disbelief.

“I hope this implies girls will likely be braver in preventing for his or her rights,” she mentioned, recalling one good friend who made herself sick ravenous herself to succeed in the airline’s dimension restrict.

“They thought everybody would put up with it. Nevertheless it offended us,” she says. “Now justice has prevailed.”