Although there are 45,000 women are currently serving in the Russian armed forces, the photo-shoot that the army recruitment office ordered to celebrate International Women's Day, on Friday March 8th, did not feature any of them.
Instead, the photos showed ballerinas in floaty white dresses, posing with active servicemen in combats and machine guns. "The men's power lies in women's tenderness and love!" read a congratulatory note from the army office, based in Russia's fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg, according to AP.
While International Women's Day is marked Friday March 8th across many countries with calls for gender equality, in Russia it is still a holiday, largely focused on celebrating outdated gender roles. President Vladimir Putin makes an annual speech thanking women for their patience, good grace and support.
Women in Russia may hold prominent positions in the government — including the influential chief of the Central Bank and speaker of the upper chamber of parliament — but traditional gender roles still hold sway, and efforts to address problems like the gender pay gap, domestic violence and sexual harassment have hardly scratched the surface.
A younger generation of Russian women, however, is hopeful that changes are afoot.