March 6, 2020

MOTHER AND CHILD CARE IN THE SOVIET UNION


Popova
From the Woman In the Land Of Socialism
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Women hold a highly respected position under the socialist system, the living embodiment of Leninism, built by our people under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party. The Soviet system has made the right to work a reality, has done away with economic crises and unemployment, and created unlimited possibilities for the improvement of the people's standard of living.

On this unshakable foundation rest the provisions made by the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet Government for the care of mother and child. 

In-the-first period after its establishment the Soviet Government was beset by many difficulties. It had to organize the people's war against foreign intervention and internal counter-revolution; the country was in the grip of starvation and chaos. Yet even then it took special measures to ensure the welfare of mother and child. 

A Committee for the Protection of Children was set up by the Council of People's Commissars. Love and paternal solicitude for children and the most warm-hearted consideration for the needs ,of mother and child pervade the decree issued by the Soviet Government in January 1918. 

"The lives of two mill'ion infants, hardly begun on the earth," the decree reads, "we are extinguished in Russia every year due to the ignorance and back-wardness of an oppressed people and the callousness and indifference of the class s ate. Every year two million afflicted mothers watered· the soil of Russia with bitter tears, as, with to'il-roughened hands, they filled the tiny graves of innocent victims of a mon-strous state system, whose death was so senseless. 

"After centuries of vain seeking, human intelligence has finally found the path to that radiant and happy era in which the working class itself is freely establishing such forms of protection of motherhood as will preserve the mother for the child, and the child for the mother." 

This decree laid the foundation for .the introduction of various measures and regulations for the protec-tion of mother and child, measures which became possible only in our socialist state. 

Year by year a more extensive program of measures in this field was put into effect. Numerous laws adopt-ed ,by the state and decisions passed by trade unions define the rights and privileges of mothers and children.

The Soviet laws ensure hygienic, healthful working conditions and contain special provisions for the health of mothers.

Factory and office administrations are obliged to transfer pregnant women to easier jobs, to work they can do without detriment to their health, and to pay them wages equal to their average earnings for the previous six months. It is against the law to let pregnant women and nursing mothers work nights or overtime. 

In addition to the regular dinner hour, mothers are allowed intermissions of at least half an hour in length each, at intervals of no less than 31/2 hours, so that they may nurse their infants. No part of their wages is deducted for these intermissions. 

Whenever the country was in difficult straits the Soviet Government paid special attention to the needs of mothers and children. During the strenuous, tense days of the Patriotic War, when people worked liter-ally without respite, the Government of the U.S.S.R. ordered all factory and office managers to give mothers of children under eight a regular weekly free day,-and all pregnant women their regular annual vacations, to follow maternity leave if so desired. Even before the war was over the government increased maternity leave from 63 days to 77, with the provision that it may be extended in cases of abnormal child-birth or of the birth of twins. 

In view of the increased mechanization of labour and the improvement of safety devices and working conditions in our industries, the Soviet Government found it possible to permit the more extensive employment of female labour. However, the Soviet law forbids the employment of women on jobs that are too heavy for them or likely to affect their health, as enumerated in a special list. The law makes it the duty of directors of factories a.,d offices in which female labour is widely employed to provide special rest rooms for women and a room where women may nurse their infants. 

The above-mentioned measures show the concern displayed by the state for. the heal!:h of working women. The same concern is displayed for the health of mothers on collective farms. The Stalin statute o.f the agricultural cartel ( or collective farm) provides that "women shall be relieved from work one month before and one month after confinement, for which period they are to be credited: with one-half the average number of workday units they earn when working." 

Expectant mothers in the U.S.S.R. are able to place themselves under the continuous supervision of doc-tors at free maternity centres for the whole period of pregnancy. There they are introduced on prenatal and infant cal'e. 

Before the revolution only a very small number of women could afford medical attendance at childbirth. On January 1, 1914 there were altogether 6,824 beds in maternity wards and maternity hospitals. Ninety-five per cent of the women had no medical assistance whatsoever during childbirth. The result was that 30,00_9 women died annually in labour. 

In the U.S.S.R. a ramified system of children's institutions has been developed of an unprecedented scale, as the following table shows:


The number of maternity homes and maternity wards in general hospitals is ,so large that practically all expectorant mothers get hospital treatment. In 1944, for example, 95 % of all pregnant women had their babies in hospitals. In 1941, before the Patriotic War, there were 141,878 beds for expectant mothers in  maternity hospitals and wards, of these 61,261 in the rural areas. 

Quacks and self-appointed midwives have disappeared from the villages entirely. All women in childbirth are taken care of at the collective-farm maternity hospitals. As a result, childbirth mortality has begun to disappear from the country-side.

Just as in the towns, nurseries have been opened in the rural areas. Besides permanent nurseries open all year round for children whose mothers are employed regularly at state farms, machine and tractor stations and collective farms, there are additional nurseries open during the busiest agricultural season. In 1946 the total number of places in permanent nurseries was 777,000.

It is interesting to note that as far back as in 1937 the Orekhovo-Zuyevo District, Moscow Region, alone had more maternity centres and more times as many nursery beds as the tsarist government maintained in all Russia.

The young citizen of the Soviet Land enjoys the most solicitous attention 'from the moment of birth. The infant is under the observation of mother and child centres. There ,the mother can obtain any expert advice she needs on the care of the child, or have her baby vaccinated and inoculated against various diseases. The milk kitchens maintained by these centres prepare special vitamin-enriched baby foods.

The centres also have legal advice offices which maintain close contact with trade union and other public organizations. They help the mothers protect their own interests and those of their children. 

The assistance rendered mothers by the Soviet State is great and varied. Working women are paid from the state social insurance funds up to 100 % of their-wages or salaries all through the period of maternity leave. Morthers of large families receive special grants of money. Parents of newborn babies receive childbirth allowances from the social insurance funds for the purchase of layettes and special infant foods. 

There are special children's clinics, sanatoriums and forest schools for sickly children over three millions of children spend their summers art country homes maintained by the trade unions and at Young Pioneer camps, or at special playgrounds. These institutions combine medical treatment with educational work which broadens the child's knowledge. 

The Stalin post war five-year plan provides for the further extension of the mother and child care program. By the end -of the five-year plan period, - in -1950, the number of permanent places in nurseries is to be increased to 1,251,000. This does not include the seasonal nurseries which cater to three or four million children every year. This number will be sufficient to meet the needs of all applicants in town and countryside. About ten thousand pediatric  specialists will be graduated from medical colleges during the same period. 

At the very beginning of the war the Soviet Government took energetic measures to evacuate children from the danger zones in order to save them from the Hider hordes. 1,869 children's institutions; were opened during the first years of .the war in twenty eastern regions of the R.S.F.S.R. and in the Kazakh Republic. This figure does not include the new children's institutions established in other parts of the U.S.S.R. Despite the wartime difficulties, the total number of children's institutions increased. The number of places in children's homes nearly doubled, and there was an increase in the number of milk kitchens, maternity centres and beds in children'$ hospitals. In October 1942 a decree was issued "On measures to improve the work of the public health services and children's institutions in medical treatment for children .and to provide more food for needy children." This greatly :improved conditions for children during the war. A chain of special-diet public dining .rooms, catering to 502,375 children, was established. Arrangements were made for every town, workers' settlement and district centre to have a pediatric specialist in charge of the work of the children's institutions. 

As the war proceeded, and despite the enormous difficulties with which the country was faced, further
measures were adopted by the Communist Party and the Soviet Government for the· .advancement of the welfare of mothers and children. On July 8, 1944 the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. promulgated a decree which still .further raised the status of mothers in our country. 

Under the Soviet system motherhood 'is glorified; the mother is exalted, she enjoys universal respect all honour, receives every attention and consideration. Motherhood, which used to he, and still is, a heavy and bitter burden for working women under the bourgeois system, has become a proud .and noble duty in the Land of Soviets. 

By the decree of July 8, 1944, state assistance to pregnant women, mothers of large. families and unmarried or widowed mothers has been consider.ably increased. Women receive money grants upon the birth of their third child, and a regular monthly allowance in addition upon the birth of the fourth. The amount of these grants and allowances increases with the birth of each new child. 

Unmarried mothers .also receive state assistance to help them bring up their children. A monthly allowance is paid to such mothers until the child reaches the age of twelve. Or she may place her child in a home where it is ,brought up at government expense. 

In 1940 the Soviet Government spent over 1,000 million ,rubles for mother and child care, for the protection of female labour, and for the care of new-born infants.

In the period since the promulgation of the Decree on July 8, 1944 till January 1, 1947 a total o:f 7,300 'million rubles was :paid out in allowances to mothers for the support of their children, and in the one year 1947 the sum amounted to 6,000 million rubles. In 1945 over 2,000 million rubles was paid out in allowances to mothers of large families.

Here are a few illustrations. Upon the birth of her twelfth child L. V. Timonkina (Lenin District, Moscow), who his been awarded the title of Mother Heroine, received a state premium of 5,000 rubles. By the time this child reaches the age of five the state will have paid her 18,000 rubles more allowances. Besides, in accordance with the law of June 27, 1936, Timonkina received 40,000 1rubles -for the sup-port of h·er other children. Matryona Tikhonovna Loshchinova, of the city of Frunze, a mother of ten children, received allowances amounting to 40,750 rubles in the course of three years. Mother Heroine Miikhalikova, a collective farmer of the Charvodar Collective Farm in the Tajik Republic, who has given birth to and brought up twelve children, received over 80,000 rubles in state allowances.

The Soviet Union is the only country in ,the world where motherhood and large families are held in such esteem by all. The noble work of mothers in bringing up young citizens is appreciated and exalted 
by the whole nation. This attitude has found expression in the institution of the title "Mother Heroine,'' which is conferred on mothers who have brought up ten children and more, and also in the institution of the Order of Maternal Glory and the Maternity medal awarded to mothers of from five to nine children. In eighteen months the Mother Heroine title was conferred on 5,838 Soviet women, and over 750,000 mothers received the Order of Maternal Glory or the Maternity medal. 

By the beginning of 1948 the total number of Moth-er Heroines in the Soviet Union was 24,993. The Order of Maternal Glory had been awarded to 592,604 and the Maternity medal to 1,640,452 women.
The huge, steadily increasing sums expended by the Soviet Government on housing construction and on social and cultural services naturally improve conditions for Soviet mothers and Soviet children every year. 

Housing construction in towns and villages was started by the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet Government on a vast scale as part of the effort to repair the damage caused by the war. Hundreds of thousands of houses have been rebuilt and as many new ones built in the liberated areas of the Soviet Union. Mil-lions.of people in the R.S.F.S.R., the Ukraine and Byelorussia, made homeless by the war, have moved into new or rebuilt houses.

The expenditures on social and cultural services provided for 'in the U.S.S.R. budget for 1948 exceed by almost 10,000 million rubles the expenditures on such services in 1947. There will be many more pupils attending grammar schools than there were before . the war, and the number :of medical institutions, maternity hospitals and children's institutions will be increased.

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The first decrees of the Soviet Government, which put an end to the degrading forms of marriage relations as laid down in the tsarist laws, ushered 'in the rise of a new kind of family, the Soviet family, based on woman's equal position in society, on mutual respect and cooperation between husband and wife, on their equal legal status in the family and equal rights regarding. the children. In the U.S.S.R., where there is no exploitation of man by man and where none of capitalism's jungle laws operate, friendship and fraternity among nations prevail. This is part and parcel of Soviet ideology. All this provides the frame-work within which the new, socialist family becomes ever more strongly knit together-a process -of vast importance for the destinies of the nation. In our country marriage is a voluntary union of man and woman, free from all ulterior motives and based upon the sincere affection of both parties. Marriage in the Soviet Union is free from all traces of oppressive economic dependence, class, national, racial or religious  restrictions common to marriage in capitalist society.

The Soviet law on the registration of marriages is designed to encourage stable family ties. The Soviet law, which is based on the vital interests of the nation, frowns upon any frivolous attitude to marriage. It obliges parents to support children and children to care for their aged parents.

The range of intellectual interests of Soviet  mothers is extraordinarily wide, for in the U.S.S.R. all the conditions are provided for women to take ad-vantage 'Of their right to work and to an education without having to neglect their duties to their children, duties which in our socialist society are regarded as sacred.

Inspirited by their honored position in society and conscious of the Soviet State's daily concern for them, Soviet mothers bring up courageous citizens with high principles and infinitely devoted to their country. While playing an important part in all spheres of public and economic activity, women have a great responsibility for the education of their children. It is the duty to their country. 

At the Seventeenth Congress of the Communist Party Comrade Stalin said that "women represent half the population of our -country; they represent a huge army of workers; and they are called upon to bring up our children, our future generation, that is to say, our future."*
*J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 492.

Particular importance attaches today of training in the spirit of communist morality, communist ethics and Soviet patriotism. Lenin said: "The basis of communist morality is the struggle for the consolidation and completion of communism` That is also the basis of communist training, education and teaching."** Lenin, Selected Works, Two-Vol. ed., Vol II,

This precept of Lenin's is sacred to Soviet women, and they are indeed bringing up citizens of  the USSR. who will carry on the great cause begun by Lenin and continued by our Party under the leadership of Comrade Stalin until its final victory.

We know that, as Lenin told us and Stalin teaches us, the danger of an attack on the U.S.S.R. and of a new world war remains real as long as imperialism exists. Only the people can prevent such a war. 

In 1916 Lenin, writing of the role of working-class women, advised them to bring their children up as fighters for Socialism, taught them to say to their 'sons:

You will soon be a man. You will be given a gun. Take it and learn to use it. The proletarians need this knowledge not in order to shoot your brothers, the workers of other countries, as they are doing in the present war, and as you are being told to do by the traitors to Socialism, but in order to fight the bourgeoisie of your own country, to put an end to exploitation, poverty and war, not by means of good intentions, ,but by vanquishing the bourgeoisie and by dis, arming it."'*

Soviet mothers are bringing up patriots of our Socialist country, loyal to the great cause of the people, the cause of Lenin and Stalin. They enjoy universal affection and regard. By their high moral qualities they have shown themselves worthy· of the solicitude displayed for them by the Socialist State, the Communist Party, and the leader and teacher of the people, Comrade Stalin.

Take, for example, the case of Yekaterina Yefrmovna-Revi of Alma-Ata. Her family consists of 61 children, grandchildren and, great-grandchildren. When the enemy attacked the Soviet Union 17 members of her family went to the war to defend their country. Eight of them became officers of the Soviet Army, distinguished themselves in action and were decorated by the Government. On the day of the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. (in 1946) 34 members of Yekaterina Yefimovna Revi's family accompanied her to the polls. They all voted for the candidates of the bloc of the Communists and the non Party masses. 

Mother Heroine Maria Yegorovna Kolodi hnikova has lived in the village of Mushgora, Arehanoel Region, all her life. She brought up thirteen of her own children and eleven adopted ones. At the outbreak of the war her husband, eight sons and two daughters went to the front. She herself worked indefatigably on the collective farm and has gone on working-after the war. In 1946 she earned 400 workday units."' 

Many Soviet mothers who have been honoured with maternity decorations had a very hard time of it before the revolution. 

"My childhood was cheerless," recalls E. Andreyeva, who has been decorated with the Order of Maternal Glory, First Degree. "My father was an illiterate mil way labourer who toiled by the sweat of his brow to feed us and clothe us. At the age of thirteen I went to work in a sand pit and never man-aged to get an education. My children have had a different kind of life. As the mother of a large family I received 24,000 rubles from the Government. With t?is money we built a house and bought a cow. My little daughter Galya asked me: 'Who built our house who bought us a cow?' and I told her: Stalin did it all.' 

"All my older children have received an education graduated colleges or technical high schools. The younger ones still go to school. My son Eugene was at the front and has five decorations. My children a  happy and healthy. They have all spent summers at Young Pioneer camps and at health resorts, and I am happy in their happiness." 

Mother Heroine M. Kirillova relates: "My youth was spent in hard and exhausting labour. There were many, many things I had to do without in the past. We were nine children. All of us wanted to get at l ast a little learning, but not one of us had a single dav's schooling. Poverty compelled us to go to work. At' the age of ten each of us was sent out into the world.' I went to work, first as a nursemaid and later as a servant. All nine of us remained illiterate.

"The Soviet system has changed my life entirely. I have ten children now. Before the revolution my children would all have been illiterate like myself. But not even in primary schools they begin to make plans for the future, discuss what they will  do after graduation,.," 

And their dreams come true. M. Kirillova's eldest son, Mikhail, graduated a technical high school for electricians and is an officer in the Soviet Army. Her daughter, Nina, graduated a teacher's college and is teaching a foreign language there. Eugene finished a factory school and is an instructor in automobile mechanics. Marila entered a Cooking School after she graduated grammer school. Varya has graduated a medical high school. Nikolai attended a factory trade school and has become a highly skilled shoemaker. Ol-ga graduated a Building Trades School, and the youngest, Lyuba and Vanya- are still at primary school, Lyuba is planning to become an engineer and Vanya wants to go to sea. They shall certainly realize their"' plans: their right to an education is guaranteed by the Stalin Constitution. 

M. Kiriilova herself did not want to lag behind her children. She enrolled in a school for adults and is no longer illiterate. 

The proper education and welfare of the younger generation is not just ,a private affair in our socialist country, it is a concern of the state and of society.

The statement of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.) "On International Women's Day March 8'' of 1916 says: 

"The Central Committee of the C.P.S. U. (B.) demands of Party organizations that they should still more make it their daily concern to look after the interests of women and children, never forgetting that the education of children is a matter of paramount importance to the state. All Soviet government, Party and public organizations should render women every possible assistance in bringing up the rising generation."

The public initiative and activity displayed in the Soviet Union in the education of children knows no bounds.

Long before the war the Kirov Works in Leningrad was famed for its excellent children's institutions. One of the most popular of them and highly appreciated by the working women was the children's club. Children of factory workers came here after school to rest, study or attend various circles. The club was formed in 1933 and there are many Stakhanovite workers in the factory who remember the days they spent in it with a sense of gratitude. During the war the club was closed, the Government evacuated the children of besieged Leningrad farther into the interior. Now the club has been reopened. The factory trade union committee has secured the services of experienced teachers and instructors and allocated the necessary funds for the purchase of books, toys and' equipment. Mothers working at the factory are perfectly easy, for they know their children are taken care of. 

The system of children's institutions established in our country has made it possible for millions of Soviet women to have families without giving up work, studies or recreation. 

"In tsarist Russia the lot of orphans, foundlings and illegitimate'' children was filled with bitterness and gall. They perished in bureaucratic orphanages. "Guardians'' possessed unrestricted rights over wards, the government and bourgeois society were indifferent and callous to the fate of orphans.

The Soviet government put an end to this for good .and all. There are no more homeless children in our country. The war, forced upon our country by the fascists, deprived hundreds of thousands of children of their parents. But the number of children's homes was ,doubled during the war and now accommodate 627,000 young citizens. Soviet public organizations greatly assist in the education of orphans. Many offices and factories "adopt" children's homes, nurseries , kindergartens, or schools. 

They help them furnish their buildings, supply them with extra fuel, assist with transportation facilities when the children go to the country for the summer and help them get up celebrations. 

Many people adopt or regularly assist orphans. This is a manifestation of the sentiments of humanity characteristic of Soviet people. Tens of thousands, of 'Soviet families have adopted small children who have lost their parents. 

The following is an excerpt from a letter to the Department of Education of Leningrad from a simple soviet woman, Fyodorova, who adopted an eight-year-old girl: "People ask me what made me adopt. a stranger's child," she writes. "But that is putting the question wrongly. There are no strangers' children in our country. All Soviet children are our children, our future. And that is why the whole country takes care of them. And it seems to me that every Soviet woman 'bringing up a child  be  It her own ' or a ' stranger ' s, ' should-be a real mother to the child, just as our country is a mother to us all." 

There are many cases on record of one family adopting several children. In the R.S.F.S.R. alone 30,000 children have ,been legally adopted and 162,000 have patrons. 

The Soviet land fosters its children lovingly and solicitously, striving to make those of them who suffered in the war forget their injuries, bringing them up to be cheerful and energetic, unafraid of difficulties, The people in our country always keep in mind Maxim Gorky's heartfelt words: 

"Never before have children been so precious as they are now that they have before them a cause of . world significance, a cause wonderfully well-begun by their mothers and fathers, a cause which is gradually stirring among the toiling people of the whole world the intelligence and the desire to build a new life." The education ,of the future citizens of the Socialist country by the Soviet schools is conducted in close contact with the family. The children are brought up to be men and women of culture, industrious, devoted to the Party of Lenin and Stalin, patriots to country,  there is nothing above the welfare and ever-grate prosperity of their country. 

In addition to the family and the school, educational work· .is conducted in a large number of extra-school institutions; which contribute to the all-round development ,of the future builders of Communism. Thousands of children's clubs are open to boys and girls. There are 100 young naturalists' centres, 200 children's technical training centres, 170 children's gymnasiums, 700 children's libraries, with a great many books, 143 children's theaters and a large number of tourist and -excursion centres for children, art clubs, amateur dramatic and music groups. 

Soviet women are deeply thankful to their Govern-ment and their Party for the real emancipation they have achieved, and are fully aware of their moral responsibility in bringing up their children. 

The statement of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.) "On International Women's Day March 8'' in 1947 stresses the exceptional services rendered by mothers in bringing up the younger generation. 

"Patriotic Soviet women," says this statement, "have brought up the glorious Soviet youth who, during the Patriotic War, proved their boundless devotion to the Party of Lenin and Stalin and their love for their country, and are now valiantly coping with the postwar difficulties, working hard to rehabilitate and further develop the country's national economy."

Leningrad working women wrote in a letter to Comrade Stalin: 

"When we look back we seem to be looking down from a high mountain and we can hardly believe that that was our yesterday, that we lived in that dirt, poverty and humiliation." It is the Soviet system that has opened before women all opportunities for developing their native abilities and displaying initiative, and that has secured them the happiness of cloudless motherhood.

"In no other country in the world are women, as mothers and as citizens who hear the great responsibility of giving birth to and bringing up citizens, so respected and so protected by law as in the U . .S.S.R.," stated a Decision of the Central Executive Committee of the U.S . .S.R. of June 27, 1936. 

The Stalin Constitution accords women equal rights with men. The actual means of exercising these rights to the full are ensured by the policy of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet Government. Article 122 of the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. states that the possibility of exercising their equal rights is guaranteed by "women being accorded an equal right with men to work, payment for work, rest and leisure, social insurance and education, and by state protection of the interests of mother and child, state aid to mothers of large families and unmarried mothers, maternity leave with full pay, and the provision of a wide network of maternity homes, nurseries and kindergarten;." 

The Stalin Constitution gives legislative embodiment to women's freedom and to the conditions which enable them to take real advantage of their freedom.

The concern shown by the Party and the Government for mothers, for the health and education of the new generation of builders of Communism and the all-embracing protection of the interests of other and child are most noteworthy features of our Socialist State, of Soviet humanism, the concern for the human being taught by Lenin and Stalin, underlies all the efforts of the Soviet State for the protection of the interests of mother and child.

From Popova
Women In the land of Socialism