March 6, 2019

SOVIET WOMEN-EQUAL BUILDERS OF THE SOCIALIST SOCIETY

N.V. Popova
WOMEN BEGIN TO TAKE AN ACTIVE PART IN GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORK

As a result of the victory of the proletarian revolution in the Soviet Republic "not a trace has been left of the laws that placed women in a subordinate position." V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIV,P. 468.

The great charter of the October Revolution, the Declaration of Rights of the Toiling and Exploited People, heralded the genuine solution of the woman question. No party ever fought for the emancipation of women so consistently as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union did and is doing now. "Not a single state, not even the most progressive republic, the most progressive democratic, bourgeois state, has granted women full equality. The Soviet Republic of Russia, on the other hand, promptly swept away all legislative traces of the inequality of women without exception and t one stroke ensured them full equality before the .law," said V. I. Lenin.""·Vol. XXV, p. 63.

No sooner was Soviet power established than all civil disabilities for women were abolished, and the Bolshevik Party set to work to draw working women and - peasant women into the administration of the country.

"We are not utopians," wrote Lenin just before the October Revolution. "We know that not every labourer or cook could at present undertake the administration of the :state. . . . We demand that the class-conscious workers and soldiers should conduct the training in. the business of state .administration, and that this should he begun immediately, i. e., that all the toilers, all the poor should begin to he trained to this business immediately."V. 1: Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI, Moscow 1935,p. 273.


Lenin, who had deep faith in the creative powers of the people, wrote: "There is no doubt that there is far more organizing talent among the working women and peasant women than we are aware ,of, people who are able to organize in a practical way. . . ."·V. I, Lenin, Selected Works., Two-Vol. ed., Vol. II,Moscow 19"/r, p. 499.

In a note to J. V. Stalin on State Control, Lenin ·wrote:

"In my opinion the following should he added to the decree on Control:

1) The establishment of central (,and local) or­gans of workers' participation.
2) Require by law the systematic participation of delegates from the proletarian population, stipulating that up to 2/3 of such delegates must be women."* Lenin repeatedly stressed that it is impossible to build a socialist society without the most active and extensive participation of women.

* V. I. Lenin; Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIX;p. 379.


Lenin's ideas 'were further developed by Stalin. "The working women," Stalin said, "the female industrial workers and peasants, constitute one of the biggest reserves of the working class, a reserve that represents a good half of the population. Whether this female reserve goes with the working class o:r against it will determine the fate of the proletarian movement, the victory or defeat of the proletarian revolution, the victory or defeat o'f the proletarian government. The first task of the proletariat and of its vanguard, the Communist Party, therefore is to wage a resolute struggle to wrest women, the women workers and peasants, from the influence of the bourgeoisie, to politically educate and to organize the women workers 'and peasants under· the banner of the proletariat.

"But the working women," Stalin went on to say, "are something more than a reserve. They may be­ come and could become-if the working class pursues a correct policy-a regular army of the working class operating against the bourgeoisie. To mould the female labour reserve into ,an army of women workers and peasants fighting shoulder to shoulder with the great army of the proletariat-that is the second and all-important task of the working class."*

The wisdom and perspicacity of Lenin's and Stalin's approach to, and solution of, the woman question can. be fully appreciated now that, with Socialism victorious in the U.S.S.R. and the country advancing gradually towards Communism, we see what a great role women have played and are playing in these achievements.

The Bolsheviks possess "magic means,"

V. I. Lenin wrote, whereby, with one stroke, they can multiply the strength of the state apparatus tenfold, a means which no capitalist state has or can have.

"'This magic means is to get the toilers, the poor, to- share in the day-to-day work of governing the state."**

* Joseph Stalin, 'A Short Biography, Moscow 1947,pp. 10.)-04 •
** V. If Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VT, Moscow 1935,p. 272.

Expounding the principles of the Soviet system, which consist in providing wide scope for the initia- tive and activity of the masses, Lenin repeated time and again that ". . . it is impossible to draw the masses into politics without also drawing in the women,'* for women comprise one-half of the population, and "there can be no socialist revolution unless a vast section of the working women take part in it.'**

The working class, guided by the Bolshevik Party, successfully accomplished the tasks Lenin and Stalin set. The introduction of equal political rights for working women was an important step towards enlisting the participation of the masses of women in state activities. Hundreds of thousands of advanced working women and peasant women became active builders of the new society. 

The Bolshevik Party took the lead in the Soviet government's great effort to ·draw women workers and peasants into political activities. In tile autumn of 1918 the "Working Women's Committees," which had been set up by the Party organizations, were supplanted ·by departments !for work among women-factory workers and peasants. Their function, besides political education, was to enlist the participation of women in the practical work of government ·bodies and trade union and cooperative organizations.

* V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. IX, p. 500.
** V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII,p. 285.

In November 1918 the First All-Union Congress of Working and Peasant Women was held in Moscow. Despite the fact that the country was in the throes of Civil War, l,147 delegates attended, including dele­ gates representing government office workers, post and telegraph employees and domestic servants. Among the questions discussed were: women's role in industrial production' and in the home, :female and child labour, and the tasks of social education. The resolution adopted at the congress declared that it was essential for working women to take an active part in the revolutionary struggle, in all its forms and manifestations.

That congress, as Comrade Stalin wrote, "was a landmark in the work of our Party among working women. The invaluable service rendered by that congress consisted in the fact that it !laid the foundation for the organization of political education among the working women and peasant women of our Republic."*

Questions of work among proletarian and peasant women were discussed at congresses of the Bolshevik Party along with the major problems on the solution of which the fate of the Soviet system depended.
* J. V Stalin, Collected Works , Russ. ed., Vol. V, p. 319.

The main points on the agenda of the Eighth Party Congress, held in March 1919, at the height of the Civil War and armed foreign intervention, were the Party Program, the policy toward the middle peas ants, problems connected with the building up of the Red Army. The Congress also pointed out the necessity of paying the most serious attention to work - among women. The resolution adopted says: "Recognizing the pressing- necessity of consolidating our forces by enlisting the participation of working women and peasant women in the struggle for Communism and in the advancement of the Soviet system, the Eighth Congress of the Party calls upon all Party Committees to take practical steps to carry out this task."*
* Resolutions and Decisions of t.he C.P.S.U.(B.), Russ. ed., 1940, Vol. I, p. 311.
1940, Vol. I, p. 311.

Another decision concerning work among women was adopted one year later at the Ninth Party Congress (March 1920) , in connection with the discussion of the immediate tasks confronting the Party and the Soviet Government. The Eleventh Party Congress, in 1922, stressed the special importance of enhancing the Party's political influence among the broadest possible masses of working women and peasant women under the new conditions of life in the country. Every effort should be made, the resolution said, to get women workers to join the trade unions, and they should be elected to trade union and Soviet government bodies. The Congress. stressed the role peasant women could play in raising agricultural output and in the development of farm cooperatives. The Twelfth Party Congress, held one year later, noted "considerable achievements in the work among women" and pointed out that the Party should ". . . increase its efforts to draw working and peasant women ·into work of Party, Soviet, trade union and cooperative organizations. . . ."* Th Congress gave special consideration to work among women of  the non-Russian nationalities.

A resolution "On Work Among Working and Peasant Women," ·drafted by the Central Committee of 
the Party in accordance with a decision of the Thirteenth Party Congress, reads in part: ". . . the Congress considers it necessary to call the attention of the whole Party to the fact that the present extent of participation of working and peasant women in Party, Soviet, trade union and cooperative development is far from sufficient, and it is therefore of prime importance for the Party to carry on work among working women and peasant women. The conservative attitude towards women, an attitude inherited from capitalist society, must be combated.

·'"" ·"Our Party organizations should be the first to set an example.
"'The construction of socialist society,' as Comrade Lenin said, 'will commence only when we, having
achieved the complete equality of women, take up our new work together with women relieved from petty, stultifying, unproductive work.'

"It is by unswervingly following this path outlined by the hand of the great leader that the principles of Leninism will be realized in the Communist Party's work among working and peasant women."*
* Resolution and Decisions of the C.P.S.U.( B.), Russ ed.,1940, Vol. I, p. 620.1940, Vol. I, p. 620.

The Party of Lenin and Stalin attached great importance to the political education of women as a factor contributing to a really basic solution of the woman question, and it held that the way to ensure the political education of women was to get them to participate in the practical work of all Soviet government bodies. In 1920 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin wrote in a message to working women during- the elections to the Moscow Soviet:

"What we want is that the working woman should achieve equality with the working man not only be fore the law but in :actual fact. It is necessary for this that working women should take an increasing part in the administration of public enterprises and in the administration of t!he state.

"In this way women will learn fast and will catch up with the men.

"Therefore elect more working women to the Soviet; both members of the Communist Party and non­ Party women."*

In 1923, in an article entitled "Fifth Anniversary of the First Congress of Working Women and Peasant Women,". J. V. Stalin wrote: "Now, when power is in the hands of the workers and peasants, the politi­cal education of working women is 'Of prime importance."**

In the same article Stalin emphasized that success in industry and in the ,development of agriculture depended to a large extent on the political awareness and maturity of women, workers and peasants, working side by side with the men in the factories ·and in the fields. He pointed out that:

"Working women and peasant women are free citizens on :an equal footing with men ;workers and peasants. They vote in the elections to our Soviets and to the · management of our cooperatives.
  
They are eligible for election to the Soviets and to the management of cooperatives. 
  
The working women and peasant women can improve our Soviets and cooperatives; strengthen and develop them, if they are politically educated. The working and peasant women can weaken and undermine them if they are backward and ignorant."**'*

* V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXV, p. 40.

** J. V. Stalin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol. V, p. 349:*** Ilffd., p. 350. .4--935                                 
A great part in - the work of organizing and politically educating the working women of town and village was played by some of the glorious daughters of our people, leading members of the Bolshevik Party who devoted their lives to the heroic struggle which the Party waged.

Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya is a shining example of a woman who selflessly served her country and fought for the 'happiness of the people. She was a young girl "when she joined the revolutionary strug­gle-in the days when the Party was just coming into being-and she devoted all her life to the fight for the Party's cause, for the welfare of the people, for Communism.

Almost sixty years ago, in 1890, Nadezhda Krupskaya joined a Marxist circle in St. Petersburg. 

In the winter of 1894 Nadezhda Krupskaya, who was teaching at an evening Sunday school, met Lenin. She remained the close friend and loyal helpmate of the great founder of the Bolshevik Party until the last day of his life. In 1895 Lenin united all the Marxist ·workers' circles into a League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, and Krupskaya took an active part in the work of this League. She was secretary of the editorial board of Iskra, in the days when Lenin was its editor, and later of the Bolshevik paper Vperyod, both published abroad. Hers was the difficult job of maintaining secret contacts with the Party organizations in Russia, and she helped in the preparatory work for the Second and Third Party congresses, in both of which she took a most active part. In 1905 she was living in  Russia, where, working as secretary of the Central Committee, she took a leading part in the underground Bolshevik Party work. During the years of rabid reaction which followed the Revolution of 1905, Krupskaya was compelled to live abroad. But she maintained close ties with Party leaders in Russia. She was secretary of the Bolshevik newspaper. 

Proletary, took an active part in  the fight against the opportunist Liquidator and Otzovist trends, and maintained contact with the Bolshevik Newspaper Pravda (published in Russia) and the Bolshevik group in the Fourth State Duma:

During the imperialist war Nadezhda Krupskaya was very active m the work of rallying the revolutionary forces for the fight against imperialism, against de­fencism, and for turning the imperialist war into a civil war. She attended the International Women's Congress in Berne at which the Russian delegates expounded the Bolshevik position on the war. · ·

After the revolution of February 1917 Krupskaya, as a Secretary of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, conducted extensive educational work arming the working people and explained to working women and solders' wives the Bolshevik slogans of struggle for a victorious -socialist revolution in Russia.

Krupskaya took part in the work of the Sixth Congress of the Bolshevik Party, which set . the rum ·of an uprising to overthrow the government of the imperialist .bourgeoisie and to transfer power to the Soviets. She participated. in the Great October Socialist Revolution and defended the Soviet government at the fronts in the Civil War. After the victory of the Soviet system and until her death Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya took an active part in the construction of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. She was an outstanding leader in the field of Communist education, a member of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.) and a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. Maria Ilyinichna Ulyanova was born in 1878. Her whole life was closely bound up with the life and work of her brother, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (Ulyanov). Maria Ilyinichna's oldest brother, Alexander, was executed on orders of the tsar's government in 1887. He had taken an incorrect path ·of struggle, the path of individual terrorism. "The path to follow is a different one," said Vladimir Ilyich, and it was that different path, Lenin's path, that his sister followed.

In those years a working-class movement was just beginning to appear in Russia.

Maria Ulyanova came to St. Petersburg in 1896; at a time when the working-class revolutionary move­ment was already making great strides. After three years of underground work she was arrested and ex­iled to Nizhni Novgorod (now Gorky) . 

When her period of banishment was up she went to Moscow and there flung hersel into revolutionary work with still greater energy. In 1901 she was arrested again, imprisoned and exiled,_ this time to Samara (now Kuibyshev), where she continued the struggle against the autocracy.

After her return from exile in 1904. Ulyanova was so closely watched by the tsarist police that it was im­possible  for her to engage in any revolutionary work in Russia. That year she went abroad to join Vladimir Ilch. Maria Ilyinichna helped Lenin in his fight against the Otzovists and the Conciliators. She translated Marx's Letters to Kugelmann, and took a course at the Sorbonne. In 1910 she removed to Saratov but was soon arrested and expelled to Vologda Province, where she engaged in revolutionary work among the railwaymen and did her full share to strengthen the Bolshevik Party organizations.

After the revolution Maria Ulyanova was appointed secretary of the Pravda and not long after was made a member of its editorial board. She became editor of Pravda's "Working Women's Page," and her articles taught millions of women to fight persistently for the fulfillment of Lenin's precepts. Warmhearted and alert, she always took a particular interest in problems affecting-working and peasant women.

At the Fourteenth Party Congress Maria Ulyanova was elected to the Central Control Commission and then to the Presidium of the Central Control Commission. A't the Seventeenth Party Congress she was elected to the Bureau of the Soviet Control Commission and was put in charge of the complaints department. In this position Ulyanova fought for the correct Party line and worked persistently and capably to get all mistakes and distortions in the activities of Soviet. organizations rectified.

Maria Ilyinichna Ulyanova died in 1937. Hers was the noble life of a staunch Bolshevik, a life of boundless devotion to the cause of the Party of Lenin and Stalin.

The Party carried on its organizational and educational activities among the masses of working women through the women's departments of its Committees and through the women's sections of the 
higher Soviet government bodies, which took care of the ;political and vocational training of women and  saw to it that the interests of women workers, mothers and children 'were protected.

Woman delegate assemblies were another highly effective mean whereby the Bolshevik Party conducted its work among women. It was mainly through these assemblies that the Party kept in touch with the broad non-Party masses of working women. In the year that elapsed between the Eleventh and Twelfth Party congresses {March 1922-April 1923) the number of women participating in the delegate assemblies rose from 16,000 to 52.000. Delegates were sent to work in various offices for a definite period and then reported hack to the assemblies.

The appointment of women to take part in the work of various commissions and sections ·of the Soviets and in the investigation of the work of government offices was one of the means of drawing them into responsible . government activity.

In the rural districts the Party conducted its work among women through village and volost delegates' assemblies and through district conferences of peasant women. The following letter, sent to Nadezhda Krup­skaya by an uneducated peasant woman from Ryazan Province, gives a clear idea of the specific difficulties the Party encountered at the initial stage of its work of getting peasant women to participate in public life. "I am now chairman of the mutual aid committee and village women's organizer. I just started this work this year. I have got quite a good deal done in my village. Firstly, I have organized delegates' sections. That was very hard to do. The women of our village didn't want to attend meetings. I asked my Volost organizer for books and she gave them to me. Then I asked the women to come ,and listen to them read aloud. 

I told them it was interesting, but they wouldn't come. They said they couldn't leave their homes alone. So I decided to p;o to them. I went to each house and read aloud. The women liked it. They asked me to come again. Then I said to them: 'You know what? Let's get the women from ten houses to come together. You will be doing- something, while I read aloud.' They agreed. I did this for a long time. Then I suggested that they attend ,a meeting. I said a speaker would come from the Volost and it would he very interesting. I persuaded them and they came. The first time almost the' whole village was there. If you knew how happy I was! But unfortunately it's hard for me because I am not educated and don't know how to go ,about these things. . . ."

This letter, truly a human document, shows what striking results were achieved by the Party's practical organizational work among the recently backward peasant women, and what great influence t!he ideas of Lenin and Stalin gained among them.

The aloofness and extreme individualism peculiar to peasants ,were becoming things of the past. 

The peasant woman began to· feel that she was a citizen, a member of the great Soviet community. A radical change was taking place in her mentality, a mentality shaped by ages of submission and routine.

The Party of Lenin and Stalin organized special women's clubs in the non-Russian regions for work among the extremely backward Mohammedan women.

All this organizational and educational work carried on by the Party and the Soviet State roused millions of working women of town and countryside to political ,activity.

In October 1927 an all-Russian congress of women members of urban and rural Soviets and of their executive committees was held. It reviewed the work done in ten years of Soviet government in getting women to take part in the work ·of all branches of state administration. The results recounted were impressive. In 1927 there were 21,221 women in urban Soviets, 146,251 in village Soviets, 45,741 in Volost Soviets. About 20,000 peasant women participated in the work of the Peasant Mutual Aid Committees. In 52 provinces, 102,146 women were elected people's assessors. The total number of organized women workers arid peasants who took part in public activities (delegates) was 620,000.

In just about ten years after the destruction of the foundations on which the bourgeois landlord society rested women in our .country had become builders of the people's Soviet State on a footing of really full equality with men. The force and wisdom of our Party's policy, the policy ·of Lenin and Stalin, and practical socialist construction had utterly confounded the assertions of bourgeois ideologists concerning the inferiority of the female sex and put an· end to the attitude towards women which had prevailed in class society for thousands of years.

The Soviet Revolution's power of transformation 'was evident in the changes 'brought about in women -worker -and peasants. In her impressions of the congress, published in Pravda, Krupskaya wrote:

"The first thing that struck one at the congress was the altered language used by the delegates. Two or three years ago women workers and peasants did not talk that way. Their language has preserved all its originality, but many new ideas and expressions have been added to it. The speakers--poor peasant women and female farm labourers from various republics, women workers from the mines, textile mills, fisheries-spoke boldly and frankly about everything-the good and the had. These women, with kerchiefs on their heads and their hands roughened by toil, spoke about planned economy, schedules, taxation, practical work, attendance at presidium meetings, farm inventory, the promotion of women, the fight against bureaucracy and red tape, improvement of quality, control, "deficits, etc."* * N. K. krupskaya, Women of the Land of Soviets-Equal Citizens, Russ. ed., Partizdat, 1938, p. 42.


From
Woman in the land of Socialism
Nina Popova