The article examines the role of women in the Old Believer, sectarian, Baptists organi-zations in the territory of Vyatka province in the XIX — beginning of the XX c. The study is based on the documents extracted from the funds of the central and regional archives (the Russian State Historical Archive, the National Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan and the State Archives of the Kirov Region), as well as published sources presented by statistical data and regulations. Drawing on previously unpublished material, the authors showed the importance of women in preserving the confessional identity of religious associations, which were the object of severe persecution by the regional authorities and the official church. In particular, the article reveals the role of women in preserving the accumulated spiritual ex-perience and traditions and transferring them to succeeding generations, as well as spreading the religious views of the Old Believers, spiritual Christians, Baptists. The active position oc-cupied by women in the education and training of the children of the Old Believers, which was inextricably linked with the comprehension of religious truths, was highlighted. In this connec-tion, the authors disclose the specificity of the perception of the Donikonov book by the Old
Believers as the bearer of indisputable truth, holiness and unshakable traditions, the role of women in preserving the book culture is revealed, and the level of literacy among the adherents of the Old Believer is analyzed with regard to gender. Much attention is paid to the characterization of legal aspects — the identification of penalties exercised by authorities in the period under consideration for adherents of Old Believers and sectarianism. Penalties included the deportation to settlement in the Transcaucasian region, exile to Eastern Siberia, imprisonment, physical punishment (thrashing). At the same time, the gender of the person did not contribute to mitigation of punishment: women were subjected to the same severe penalties as men. However, the severity of the punishment for spreading the old-faith and sectarianism failed to stop their adherents, including women.