Lipstick and big guns in Moscow
A Moscow girls school is providing dozens of young pupils with a very patriotic education. Pupils learn how to be a well-rounded modern Russian women, including basic military training and cooking.
SUNDAY 08 MARCH 2009
From France24 (click to see video)
By ROMAIN GOGUELIN (text) / ROMAIN GOGUELIN (video)
To mark International Women’s Day, FRANCE 24 takes a look at Russian pupils in a modern girls’ school, Egyptian women learning self-defence techniques and the French women’s movement ‘Neither Whores Nor Submissives’ which is expecting to have a hard time helping women in Morocco.
All the pupils are cadets, they have bunches in their hair and epaulettes on their shoulders: this is the uniform of a girls boarding school near the centre of Moscow where pupils have all taken a special oath.
Natasha is 12 years old and, like her friends, has sworn to serve her fatherland and be faithful to Russia.
This morning, this young patriot at the only boarding school of its kind in Russia starts her day with her favourite lesson: military training.
The lesson starts with shooting practice using a Makarov pistol. For Natasha, shooting is easier and a lot more fun than solving an algebra problem.
And shooting has also made these young cadets famous: these future elite markswomen have become stars on military programmes on Russian national television, which depicts them as models of patriotism and devotion.
There's no target practice outside today but instead a lesson about the Kalashnikov machine gun, a bigger version of the famous AK47.
Natasha says she prefers the machine gun because it’s longer and more powerful than the classic Kalashnikov.
With the practical part of the lesson over, the older girls leave to practice for their next parade on the famous Red Square.
“In my family everyone is in either the police or the military, so I’m following tradition,” says 15-year-old Katia.
Younger girls stay in the classroom to study other subjects on the curriculum like sewing.
“We are preparing them to be future women, future mothers, future housewives..For example, in cookery class, they learn how to cook healthy dishes,” says the teacher Galina Vladimirovna.
The school says that learning how to peel potatoes is just as important as the other practical lessons.
Natasha says it’s not as boring as sewing but she still doesn’t enjoy it. She by far prefers to talk about heavy weapons than cookery. But she doesn’t want to be a tank driver or peel potatoes when she grows up: she wants to be a lawyer.
She studies all the same subjects as girls her age at normal schools as well as doing military classes.
Natasha’s schoolday ends at 4 o’clock. She goes back to her dorm room to get her toy bear and call her dad – a staff colonel in the Russian Army.