POST-COMMUNIST EUROPE'S POLITICAL, economic, and social transformation has profound implications for women's role in society, for popular perceptions of their status, and for official policy. Yet literature and public discussion on those topics suggest that a thorough and systemic analysis of the effect of the transitional process on gender relations has not yet occurred in public or academic circles. Since 1989, Western social scientists have largely driven debate and have transferred - often uncritically - their concerns about and concepts of the role of gender in Western society into the context of Eastern and Central Europe. They usually assume that women are the losers in the transition process, frequently portraying them as passive victims of democratization and a market society. A United Nations Conference on Women working document states that "countries in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States have experienced a very marked and rapid decline in gender equity."1

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