Maria Ivanovna Arbatova was born in 1957.
Known for her non-conformist views since youth, she refused to join the Komsomol as it stood in contradiction to her principles.
She studied in the Faculty of Philosophy in the Moscow State University, in the Dramatic Arts division of the Gorky Literary Institute, and underwent training in psychoanalysis. In the pre-perestroika years, her literary works were banned by censorship. Today she is the Member of the Moscow Writer’s Union and the Union of Theatrical Workers of Russia.
She is the author of 14 plays staged in Russia and abroad, 20 books, and numerous articles in newspapers and periodicals.
Coming from the first woman writer with an open feminist ideology, her books and plays won the hearts of a wide audience immediately. Her expertise on feminist issues was exploited to the full when she co-hosted the popular television show - “I, Myself” - a program that ran for almost ten years. It was chiefly due to her efforts that the words "feminism" and “feminist” acquired legitimacy in the post-Soviet era. Since 2005, Maria Arbatova has conducted a human rights related program “The Right to be yourself” on radio “Mayak.”
Since 1991, parallel to her literary and media activities, she spearheaded the activities of “Harmony”, a feministic club for the mental rehabilitation of women. From 1996 onwards, her “Club of Women interfering in politics” has been involved in seeking a more equitable representation of women in the Russian political establishment.
Joining the ranks of the liberal “Soyuz Pravikh Sil” (The Union of Rightists), she made an unsuccessful bid in 1999 to win the elections to the State Duma from the University district of Moscow and, subsequently, wrote an account of her harrowing electoral experience in the novel “How I fairly tried to get into the Duma.” In 2000, she conducted, as a psychologist, the political campaign of Ella Pamfilova, the first woman to apply for the post of the President of Russia. She applied for the post of the Human Rights Plenipotentiary of Russia and, during the period 2001-2003, stood at the helm of the Human Rights Party. In 2005 she was among the leaders of the political block “Free Russia” during the Moscow municipal elections.
Maria Arbatova’s activities-through her books, her numerous appearances and statements in the press and her social work- have brought to the forefront the theme of discrimination of Russian women, a fact acknowledged by the majority of Russian women and representatives of the political elite. She has always shunned grants for her activities, eschewing mercenary gains for her “missionary” work.
She has received numerous accolades for her literary and public achievements:
- In 1991, she was adjudged the winner of the All-Union Competition of Radio Dramaturgy for her radio novella “The Initiation Ceremony” from the play “The Late Crew.”
- In the same year, she was awarded a Gold medal from the Cambridge Bibliographical Society for “Contribution to Culture in the 20th century” in the nomination “Dramatic Arts”.
- In 1993, her story “Abortion from my unloved” was nominated for the Best Prose award by the newspaper “Literaturniye Novosti (Literary news)”
- In 1996 she was the nominated the Laureate of the Bonn Biennale for her play “A Trial interview on the theme of freedom” directed by the Bonn Dramatic theater.
- In 1998, she was a laureate in the Radio Dramaturgy Competition “The European Prize” for her play “The Initiation Ceremony” directed by radio “Russia”.
- In 2003, she was awarded the medal “For service to the Fatherland” by the National Welfare Fund “Eternal glory to heroes ”