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Latvian report Latvian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-08-07 10:20:45
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Tigers in high heels

Despite the idea that discrimination of women in business is rampant in Latvia and the Baltic States, studies by both local and international groups have shown otherwise. There is also a common misconception that women are not able to work in the fields they choose, as those fields are predominately oriented towards male workers. Women’s business NGO Lidere annually publishes a study of “Latvian Entrepreneurial Women.” The study found that in recent years, even since the early 2000s, 72 percent of women have been able to work in the field of their choice. The main obstacle to overcome (at 33.8 percent) was financial, while the negative attitude towards women in business only accounted for 1.8 percent of the overall troubles facing women in business. “We all know that there are more men than women in business. One of the most frequently proposed reasons for this is that, compared to men, women are less confident in their abilities, they are not as willing to risk and many think, ‘What will happen if I fail?’” says Irina Petersone of the Women’s Association Lietisko Sieviesu Apvieniba.

“At the same time, women have a higher sense of responsibility. Women as business partners are honest, they can be trusted. Women are determined and focused - they will make every effort to accomplish their mission and to implement the project. All these features are needed in business. It follows that business is also suitable for women,” explains Petersone, highlighting the ongoing project together with Sweden on business mentoring for women. The business atmosphere in Latvia, some say, is already ahead of its neighbours in terms of equality. Highlighting a difference between Latvia and Lithuania, we can look at the Lithuanian company Olialia, a ‘blondes only’ company which gained international press last year for their plans to operate a resort in the Maldives exclusively with blonde staff. The company has a hugely diverse portfolio, with business ventures ranging from ice cream and bus services to nightclubs and cosmetics. The only issue that some have is the inherent discrimination, and also inequality the company presents.

“Not only is the ‘blonde island’ idea demeaning to women, but borderline racist,” said Margarita Jankauskaite, director of the Lithuanian Centre for Equality Advancement. “I am ashamed that this initiative came from my country. This only sends a message to the world that Lithuania is a country of cheap beer and cheap blond women,” Jankauskaite continued. However, the company has been praised for it’s highly successful, if not scantily clad, marketing. Something that the Latvian Association of Blondes has picked up on in recent years, starting with its annual Blonde Parade for charity. However, this company of blonde women has seen profits in the past year jump over 100 percent, with a brand recognition of 99 percent in Lithuania. The company, in cooperation with business partners, operates in 75 business sectors, with over three million Euros in sales alone. Should Latvians play up their blonde image to make money? Or is Latvia more focused on achieving a balance in the work place, not carving out a specific corner in which women can operate? Latvia seems to be headed towards promoting equality, but not going too far as to create an imbalance for men. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Latvia’s former president has come out publically to emphasize that, despite stereotypes or differences, the focus should be on ability, and not gender.


Latvian majority MP's support Europe plan for protection of Camp Ashraf in Iraq

While in the attack on camp Ashraf on April 8th, ordered by the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, at the request of Iranian regime, 36 residents including 8 women were killed and 350 wounded, and while the Iraqi armed forces are in the camp and the inhumane siege of Ashraf continues, Iraqi government prevents high-ranking European parliamentary delegation visiting camp Ashraf.

 On May 10th in Strasbourg, the EU parliament delegation to Iraq, headed by Struan Stevenson, presented a plan to solve the problem of Ashraf. We support the plan and urge the Iraqi government to pave the way for solving this problem by implementing the preconditions of this plan.

We ask the government of Latvia; Mr. Bon Ki-moon, UN Secretary General;  Ms. Navi Pilay, Human Rights High Commissioner; Baroness Ashton, EU High representative; and international community to support EU's plan for Ashraf protection, and act for realization of the followings: 1. The UN assumes responsibility for protection of Ashraf and implement UN observing mission in the camp with the support of EU and the US; 2. Immediate withdraw of Iraqi forces from camp Ashraf, lift siege of Ashraf, free access to medical services for injured and patience; 3. Appointment of a special UN Security Council Representative to investigate the crime on April 8th and to prosecute those responsible for it.


Household expenditures in Latvia decreased by 8.8% in 2010

Data of the Household Budget Survey compiled by the Central Statistical Bureau show that along with the decrease in the total consumption expenditure (by 8.8%, if compared to 2009), also household expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages in 2010 continued to reduce (by 3%). Analysis of the household expenditure in breakdown by product groups shows that it has grown only in vegetable and potato group (by 4.3%). That may be explained with the increase in consumer prices for vegetables and potatoes (by 9.4%).
The expenditure on food in the budget of an average household comprised LVL 50 per household member per month (in 2009 LVL 52). Private household on average spent 28.3% of all consumption expenditure on food (in 2009 26.7%). Share of expenditure on food in the total consumption expenditure has grown, and it indicates a reduction of welfare level in households.

In accordance with the Household Budget Survey data, an “average” resident drank 50 litres of milk, ate 197 eggs, consumed 87 kg of potatoes, but 1.7 kg of coffee beans, in turn, were spent to make a coffee.

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