In Russia as a whole, there are 11 million more women than men, due in part to a century of bloody revolutions, gulags, and wars that drained the country’s male population.Add to that the fact that male life expectancy is particularly grim in Russia—on average, 59 years, as opposed to a woman’s 73 years, the largest gap of any country in the world—and you’ve got a serious demographic imbalance.
A professional dancer and the art director of Moscow’s new Leica Academy, she favors a wardrobe of black designer threads that hang gracefully on her trim frame.
She is a fixture of Russia’s avant-garde art circles, and can often be found hosting hip gallery openings, welcoming visitors to photography exhibits at the Russian Academy of Arts, or teaching art students at the Rodchenko Photo School.
“I am not concerned about staying a single woman,” she declared, and said she is planning to “raise hell from the bottom up” in Russian politics—particularly in the provinces, where she said she has found grassroots help from local women who are eager to monitor the court systems and potential corruption.
While Popova is a single woman working to change the system from within, other young women remain distrustful of Russia’s political and legal systems, which are run by and for men.
At Start Up Women, a recent conference held in Moscow, hundreds of glamorous female entrepreneurs discussed how to take over consumer markets through online social networks.
Most of these women admitted to being disillusioned by the way their career paths were blocked by male colleagues.Still, the numbers of single men and women in Russia are roughly equal: 17.6 million single ladies to 17.2 million single lads.“That means that Russian women simply have no interest in marrying Russian men,” says Irina Zhuravleva, the head of Russia’s census department at the Federal Statistics Service.“Their parents had no tradition of sitting down and talking things over, either.” After watching several relationships with Russian boyfriends fall apart, Shubina realized that she needed to redefine her idea of happily ever after.“As a teen, I always thought I would be married by my early 20s” she says.“He disliked the idea.” Russia’s male leadership was publicly accused of chauvinism last week by Valentina Matviyenko, Russia’s most senior female politician, who predicted a woman would sit in the presidential chair in as little as 15 years. “It is approaching.” One young woman who hopes she might make it up the political ladder is Alyona Popova, a petite 29-year-old with a distinctive blonde braid, who describes herself as “unstoppable.” The single Yekaterinburg native, who is independently wealthy, has already founded two midsize IT companies in Moscow and adopted four foster children.