5 things the Soviet regime gave women

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF
The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution began with a demonstration of women and then they actively began to participate in social and political life. Vladimir Lenin said that women would not have been defeated by the Bolsheviks. And what did the new regime thank the ladies with?

1. Political equality & the right to vote

Demonstration of Putilov workers on the first day of the February Revolution of 1917

The first Soviet Decree "on Establishment of the Workers' and Peasants' Government" essentially equalized men and women in political rights and in the exercise of state administration. Soviet Russia became one of the first countries to grant women the right to vote. Moreover, they received the right to be elected to the bodies of state power themselves. Very soon, Alexandra Kollontai would become the world's first female minister.

2. Equal social & property rights

Women at the Inza diatom plant

The Bolsheviks clearly limited women's working day to eight hours, prohibited women's labor in night shifts and underground work, while giving them equal rights in wages, property and land ownership. Marriage between a man and a woman was no longer ecclesiastical, but civil and became a union of equals where women were no longer slavishly dependent on their husbands.

3. Paid maternity leave

Young mothers walking with their children. 1968

Working mothers were provided by the Bolsheviks with paid maternity leave and the right to return to work afterward. In the early years of Soviet rule, it was a paid leave for eight weeks before childbirth and eight weeks after childbirth. In addition, nursing mothers had their working hours reduced to six hours for nine months after childbirth. Because it was granted by a ‘special decree’, maternity leave is still called 'dekretny' in Russia.

4. Open & free access to higher education

Women came with their children to study at a women's club, 1928

Before the revolution, women could already attend schools and even the first exclusive female institutions for higher education appeared. But, they were private, fee-based, accessible to a few and had a rigid competitive system. From 1918 however, women were able to enter universities for free on an equal footing with men.

5. Feminism

“Glory to equal rights for women in the USSR!”

In order to teach women how to use their new rights and to teach a new way of life, the Bolsheviks created a special ‘Women’s Department’ in the Party. This was essentially made for the propaganda of feminism. Women had to be “weaned from domestic and kitchen slavery”, to break their centuries-old traditional views about their role. Read more about the ‘Women's Department’ here.

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