US National Women’s Soccer Team Sues for Equal Pay

Source:  TeleSUR
March 5 2019

us women soccer team telesur.jpgMar 5, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Team United States pose for a photo before a
game against Brazil in a She Believes Cup. | Photo: Reuters/Douglas DeFelice-
USA TODAY Sports

The national women’s soccer team is suing its governing body for discrimination in pay.

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All 28 members of the United States squad were named as plaintiffs in federal court in Los Angeles on International Women’s Day and the lawsuit includes complaints about wages and nearly every other aspect of their working conditions.

The players, a group that includes stars Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, said they have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts even though their performance has been superior to the men’s team.

“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that,” U.S. co-captain Morgan said in a statement.

“We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility. As players, we deserved to be paid equally for our work, regardless of our gender.”

According to the lawsuit, filed three years after several players made a similar complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. soccer has “utterly failed to promote gender equality.”

The U.S. Soccer Federation did not respond when asked to comment on the lawsuit.

The players said that U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro previously admitted the women’s team should be valued as much as the men’s squad but the federation “has paid only lip service to gender equality.”

The lawsuit outlines years of institutionalized gender discrimination, claiming travel conditions, medical personnel, promotion of games and training are less favorable for female players compared to their male counterparts.

The U.S. women’s team has enjoyed unparalleled success in international soccer, including three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals.

The men’s team have never won either tournament and their best modern-day result at a World Cup was in 2002 when they reached the quarter-finals.

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When the women’s team clinched their most recent World Cup title in 2015, it was the most watched soccer game in American TV history with an audience of approximately 23 million viewers.

The team’s success has translated into substantial revenue generation and profits for the federation, the lawsuit said. The women earned more in profit and/or revenue than the men’s national team for the period covered by the lawsuit, it said.

“In light of our team’s unparalleled success on the field, it’s a shame that we still are fighting for treatment that reflects our achievements and contributions to the sport,” said U.S. co-captain Lloyd.

“We have made progress in narrowing the gender pay gap, however progress does not mean that we will stop working to realize our legal rights and make equality a reality for our sport.”

Last October FIFA said it will double the total prize money for this year’s World Cup in France to US$30 million, with the winning team taking home US$4 million. The total prize money for last year’s men’s World Cup in Russia was US$400 million, with champions France receiving $38 million.

FIFA announced Friday plans to host a global women’s convention this June in Paris where it said leaders from the world of sports and politics will discuss key issues around the development and empowerment of women in soccer.

The U.S. players are also seeking class-action status that would allow any women who played for the team since February 2015 to join the case.

“We feel a responsibility not only to stand up for what we know we deserve as athletes, but also for what we know is right – on behalf of our teammates, future teammates, fellow women athletes, and women all around the world,” said Rapinoe.

In 2017, the U.S. women’s national hockey team threatened to boycott that year’s world championship but returned to the ice after settling a dispute with USA Hockey over wages and better benefits in line with their male counterparts.

The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) said in a statement it made progress during contract negotiations with U.S. Soccer in 2017 regarding compensation and working conditions but that more work needs to be done.

“This lawsuit is an effort by the plaintiffs to address those serious issues through the exercise of their individual rights,” the union said in a statement, adding that it would continue to seek improvements through the labor-management and collective bargaining processes.

Cubanas, Mujeres en Revolución

 

Film:  Cubanas, Mujeres en Revolución  Sunday April 21 @ 12:30 pm 

474 24th St
Oakland, CA 94612
$10 donation (nobody turned away for lack of funds)
Don’t miss the showing of the film Cubanas, Mujeres en Revolución,  a documentary by Maria Torrellas.
 

Cubanas, Mujeres en Revolución  is a 90 minutes film with English subtitles produced by Resumen Latinoamericano. It has been shown in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, Spain, France, Canada, England, Turkey, Australia, Sweden, and in the US in San Francisco CA, New York and Washington DC. This film evokes the continuous role of women in the Revolution, both in the guerrilla struggle and in the construction of the new Cuban society, through the testimonies of heroines such as Vilma Espín, Celia Sánchez and Haydée Santamaría, the founding figures of the Revolution, and also of contemporary women from different sectors of Cuban society. Reflections and life experiences that show how these women were nourished by the values built in the revolutionary struggle in the late 1950s.

Why do Cuban women support the Revolution so firmly?

Source:  Granma
March 8 2019

by  Fidel Castro Ruz

why cuban women support the revolution

Photo: Granma Archives Endrys Correa

Cuban women support the Revolution so firmly, so enthusiastically, so loyally… because it is a revolution that means double liberation for women. Women are a part of the country’s most humble sectors… women face discrimination not only as workers, but as women as well

I told a compañero that this phenomenon of women in the Revolution was a revolution within another revolution. And if we were asked: what is the most revolutionary thing that the Revolution is doing, we would answer that the most revolutionary thing the Revolution is doing is precisely this; that is, the revolution that is taking place within the women of our country. If we were asked: what are the things that have taught us the most in the Revolution, we would answer that one of the most interesting lessons that revolutionaries are receiving in the Revolution is the lesson that women are giving us. (…)

What is occurring to us, in reality, is that this potential force is superior to what the most optimistic of us could have ever imagined. And that is why we said that, maybe in the background, unconsciously, unconsciously there was some prejudice, or there was some underestimation, since reality is demonstrating, just beginning to march along this path, all the possibilities and all the roles women can play in a revolutionary process (…)

If women believe that their situation within society is optimal, if women believe that the revolution’s function, its revolutionary function within society, has been fulfilled, they would be mistaken.

It seems to us that women must still struggle a great deal, that women must work hard to reach the place they should really occupy (…)

If women in our country were doubly exploited, doubly humiliated, that means simply that, in a social revolution, women must be doubly revolutionary.

And this perhaps explains, or contributes to explaining, and it can be said that it is the social base that allows an explanation as to why Cuban women support the Revolution so firmly, so enthusiastically, so loyally. Simply for this reason:

Because it is a revolution that for women means two revolutions; because it is a revolution that means double liberation for women. Women are a part of the country’s most humble sectors… women face discrimination not only as workers, but as women, as well, within this exploitative society.

That is why the attitude of women in our Revolution, in our country, reflects this reality, reflects what the Revolution has meant for women. And the popular sectors, the popular sectors support the Revolution to the same extent that the Revolution has meant liberation for them (…)

It only remains to say, with all my strength: Long live Cuban women! Long live the revolutionary spirit, the discipline, the devotion of Cuban women!

Long live the female revolution within the socialist revolution!

Source: Speech during the closing session of the Fifth National Plenum of the FMC, December 9, 1966.

Latin American, African Nations Lead in Women Representation in Parliament

Source:  TeleSUR
March 8 2019

latin_americanx_african_countries_lead_with_women_legislatorsPiedad Cordoba (left), Sahle-Work Zewde (center), Cristina Fernandez (right)
are major political figures in their countries of origin, | Photo: EneasMx – Reuters

Out of the top 10 countries in the world with women in parliament, nine are located in Latin America and Africa.

Despite remaining challenges, Women have come a long way in politics. Almost a century after gaining the right to vote in most parts of the world, women now have a seat at the table  serving as lawmakers and even leading their country’s parliaments. And in this category, Latin American and Africa lead the way.

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According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), as of December 2018 out of the top 10 countries in the world with high numbers of women in parliament, nine are located in Latin America and Africa. Rwanda has the best record for women representation, with nearly two-thirds of its seats currently held by women.

Cuba and Bolivia

The African nation is followed by two other countries with more women in parliament than men – Cuba and Bolivia. The rest of the group is made up of four other Latin American and Caribbean countries – Mexico, Grenada, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica – and rounded out by two more African nations – Namibia and South Africa.

“A world where women have equal opportunities as men in political, social and economic spheres, is crucial towards creating a comprehensive sustainable development and improving the livelihood for all,” Kenyan Senator Sylvia Kasanga said as part of the #BalanceforBetter campaign luanched by the global network of female politicians, Women Political Leaders (WPL).

In the United States, 2019 marked a historic year for the number of women sworn into office in the 116th Congress. A record 127 will serve as congresswomen, 106 Democrats and 21 Republicans according to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Names such as Ilhan Omar stand-out as she became the first Muslim congresswoman, along with Rashida Tlaib and Latina Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest elected congressperson in the country’s history.

However, the U.S. is far from equal representation as it stands on the IPU list in the 139th position with 19.6 percent of women in Congress. At the same time Latin America, as a region, has increased its percentage of women lawmakers by 20 percent from 1990 to 2018 reaching 30 percent.

As the World Economic Forum indicates, quotas reserved for women can explain this increase as they are a common factor in many of the electoral systems with more women as legislators and MPs. One of the first countries in the world to introduce such a law was Argentina in 1991.

Since then policies aimed to put forward a certain proportion of female candidates have been applied across Latin America and in other nations in the Global South. Also, the improvement of education access for women has to be taken into consideration.

US 2018: Strikes are back!

Source:  SocialistWorker.org
December 17 2018

A dramatic rise

Strikes are back for U.S. workers in a big way — up from official statistics that recorded 25,000 people on strike in 2017 to just under half a million so far in 2018. And these strikes are getting the goods across industries: Starting with the “red state” rebellion of teachers in right-to-work states, workers have been winning significant raises in many contracts.

The dramatic rise in strike numbers is in part a result of the tight labor market giving workers more confidence to demand more from bosses and politicians. But recovering lost ground financially doesn’t tell the whole story.

SW’s year-end review, left to right: Arizona teachers on the march; a pro-Bolsonaro demonstration in Brazil

For example, 2018 was the year #MeToo walked the picket line. Women leapt to the front of the labor movement in every groundbreaking struggle of the year. In teaching, techfast food and hospitality, women led the way, bringing issues of sexism and social reproduction to the forefront — and proving wrong all the union bureaucrats who think that unity must be built on the most bland, economic basis when confronting capital.

Overall, 2018 was a much more political year for labor. The social role of teachers — and the role played by schools not just in educating our children academically, but shaping them socially, and in many cases providing them with necessary meals and emotional support — drew thousands of supporters into the red state rebellion, from West Virginia to Arizona.

Their success spurred teachers’ fights statewide in Washington — and, just this month, a one-day teachers’ wildcat in parts of Oakland, a 50,000-strong march for public education led by the teachers’ union, and the country’s first strike of charter-school educators in Chicago, which included a demand for sanctuary schools for undocumented students.

Educators started the year speaking out against arming teachers in the name of “safety” and finished it taking a stand for migrant and refugee children held at the Southern border. Based on these trends, we can expect the Black Lives Matter in School week of action in February 2019 to be even larger and more impactful than this year’s, which involved hundreds of schools and won the endorsement of 20 teachers’ unions.

Teachers aren’t the only ones who took part in political job actions. Legal workers in New York City stood in solidarity with immigrants being profiled in the courts. Tech workers at Amazon and Microsoft organized to end their companies’ contracts with ICE.

And in a dramatic job action against white supremacy, nearly 80 graduate workers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill collectively withheld grades as the end of the semester neared — their protest helped to scuttle the school’s plan to build a $5.3 million “history” center that would have housed the Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam.”

The path is far from clear for workers who want to fight back. Labor laws favor the bosses more than ever in the post-Janus period, and union members such as New York City teachers and Columbia grad workers have to contend with union leaderships that prefer to rush through substandard deals.

Most notably, Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa Jr. was able to jam a bad contract down the throats of UPS workers, who showed the same spirit of resistance as teachers and hotel workers in voting down the union’s tentative agreement.

Nevertheless, 2018 showed that the class war finally has two sides — and that workers are eager to connect their fights for a just contract to wider struggles for justice. In 2019, socialists and other labor radicals need to strike while the iron is hot.

Cuban women: A revolution within the Revolution

Source:  Granma
March 9 2018

It is almost impossible to talk about future projects in Cuba or the work done over all these years to construct a socialist society, without mentioning the role of women in decision making and their contribution in key spaces since the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959

Foto: Ismael Batista

It is almost impossible to talk about future projects in Cuba or the work done over all these years to construct a socialist society, without mentioning the role of women in decision making and their contribution in key spaces since the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959.

Cuban women make up 48% of the state sector workforce, with a similar percent occupying management positions. Excellent employment, participation and leadership opportunities are open to women, for example, eight out of every ten attorneys in the country are female, as Teresa Amarelle Boué, Secretary General of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and a member of the Communist Party of Cuba Political Bureau reported.

Meanwhile, women constitute 48.86% of deputies in the National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament), a figure that demonstrates the important contribution made by Cuban women to drafting policy and perfecting the island’s socialist system.

Likewise, 78.5% of healthcare professionals are women, as well as almost half of all of those conducting scientific research. Women also constitute 66% of the country’s highly trained technicians and professionals, receiving the same salary as their male counterparts for the same work.

Cuban women also have access to free and universal education and healthcare, and represent 60% of all university graduates.

The FMC

A revolution within the Revolution, is how Fidel Castro Ruz described women’s participation in the construction of a new society, This was the same spirit that led to the founding of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), on August 23, 1960, with Vilma Espín as president, who stood out as an example of commitment to the revolutionary struggle and the defense of women’s rights.

“There are many things our country can feel fortunate about, among them, above all, the magnificent people it possesses. Here it is not only men that fight; here just like men, women also fight,” stated the Comandante en Jefe.

Since then, the FMC has continued to grow and today has over four million members, 90.6% of Cuban women over the age of 14 years, the minimum age requirement to become a member.

The FMC has created institutions centered on helping Cuban families, such as the Community Women and Family Guidance Centers, which undertake educational and prevention work, and ensure that women, men, children and seniors receive individualized care when it comes to conflict resolution, whether it be a case of domestic violence, legal advice or other matters.

The organization also visits communities and local maternity facilities where it offers support and advice to families, especially information regarding safe sex and the risks associated with teen pregnancy.

What is more, the Federation gives special attention to a sensitive but important issue: prostitution. Based on the Cuban government’s zero tolerance policy as regards procuring, corruption of minors and other forms of sexual abuse, the FMC supports victims and those at risk, undertaking work at a community level, where it carries out prevention efforts and offers guidance.

Healthcare guaranteed

The political will of the Cuban government to guarantee comprehensive healthcare for women should be noted, with the implementation of various universal healthcare programs designed around the family.

These include the maternal-infant health program; cervical, uterine and breast cancer screening; as well as a parenthood guidance plan; support for older adults with specific initiatives designed for elderly women; and finally a program to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and AIDS.

The maternal-infant health program is a priority for the Ministry of Public Health in its efforts to reduce the country’s infant mortality rate – which stood at 4 per 1,000 live births in 2017 – and maternal deaths every year.

It also includes measures to reduce the mortality rate among school age children, and deaths caused by birth defects, as well as providing the population with different forms of contraceptive, including legal, free abortions performed in public hospitals.

Likewise, the program ensures the strict monitoring of pregnant women, with over 12 check-ups throughout their pregnancy, clinical and diagnostic tests, the admittance of at risk women to the appropriate facilities, and conducting all possible deliveries in a hospital.

Infant care

During their first few months, infants receive check-ups every seven to 15 days, home visits and medical examinations, as well as scheduled vaccinations within the first year of life.

Meanwhile, care of the elderly in Cuba is promoted from within the family, with a state program which prioritizes initiatives for those of retirement age, above all women (60 years of age) with university courses for Older Adults, educational workshops and programs for seniors; direct medical attention from the local doctor; senior’s circles which promote physical exercise and recreational activities; retirement homes providing full time care, and day care centers which offer part-time assistance for families unable to look after elderly members during the day.

In this same vein, the cervical, uterine and breast cancer screening program includes regular Pap tests conducted at the local family doctors’ office. Women are also encouraged to conduct breast self-exams and visit their doctor if they suspect anything. Meanwhile, women diagnosed with cancer are provided with medical care, medicines, surgery and specialized treatments.

Parenthood

Regarding parenthood, in 2003 the Decree-Law 234 relating to Maternity Leave was issued with Complementary Resolution number 22/2003, granting both men and women maternity/paternity leave during the first year of life, with the intention of redefining traditional parental roles by placing shared responsibility at the center of child-parent relations.

Meanwhile, the STI prevention program includes, first and foremost, talks and events on how to tackle these infections, with condoms available in local pharmacies. If a person has an STI they are provided with free medical treatment and the appropriate medications, no matter the cost.

What is more, Cuba was the first country in the world to receive validation from the World Health Organization of having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

Illnesses which exclusively affect women, and biological processes such as pregnancy, maternity and menopause, are all prioritized within each of these programs, which form part of Cuba’s free and universal healthcare system, offering broad coverage and quality of treatment to patients, with efforts centered on health promotion and disease prevention.

Double workload

Today, however, these programs must also include aspects specifically linked to gender in the context of women’s daily lives, such as stress and exhaustion stemming from their double workload of holding down a job and managing a home.

In this regard, there is a marked interest in promoting the active participation of men in child care, and issue which is hindered by the continued existence of social prejudices and stereotypes. Statistics reveal that only 90 men took advantage of the new paternity law after it was approved, above all following the death of the mother or other specific situations.

It is worth noting that Cuban law includes a series of regulations affording special rights to women during both the pre and post natal period, starting from 34 weeks through to when the child can walk; while working mothers can breast feed for as long as they like.

A great deal has been achieved over the years, although much remains to be done, as seen in spaces calling for an end to violence against women and girls, in debates on gender equality, reproductive rights and sex education, as well as work to dismantle stereotypes inherited from a misogynist and patriarchal society: all of which form part of efforts to continue building a more just and equal society, where women continue to lead a revolution within the Revolution.

The Bolshevik Revolution’s Pioneering Gains for Women

Source:  TeleSUR
November 6 2017

russian women demonstrate 1917.jpgThe women’s demonstration for bread, land and peace on March 8, 1917 in Petrograd was the beginning of the end of Tsarist Russia. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The first worker’s state in the world would never have materialized without the steely, militant determination of women.

“Bread!” was the first call to order. “Down with the tsar!” the next. Soon, cries of “Down with the war!” drowned the streets.

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The women workers of Petrograd — then the capital of Russia — roamed through town on the cold morning of Feb. 23, 1917, throwing sticks, stones and snowballs at factory windows, urging their male counterparts to join their clamor. By the end of the day, 100,000 people were out in the streets on strike.

On the sixth International Working Women’s Day, women workers set the course of history: the strike in the juggernaut of the Russian empire would go on to topple the tsar forever, sparking the revolutions that would eventually give rise to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The socialist October Revolution — also known as the Bolshevik Revolution — that would follow February’s fervor set in motion by the demands of working women, would, in turn, bring about massive gains for a society steeped in patriarchy and a semi-feudal order.

Women in Tsarist Russia

In Tsarist Russia — one of the largest empires in human history that spanned nearly two centuries — women were little more than the property of men.

The Russian Orthodox church had a hold in the country, preserving a culture of staunch conservatism. Men were legally allowed to beat their wives. Women also had no right to unrestricted movement, obliged to follow their husbands wherever they went.

They were allowed to work only with their husband’s consent. Education was massively restricted, with only about 13.1 percent of Russian women being literate in 1897.

Divorce, granted in only exceptional cases, put women through a humiliating interrogation process by police and judges and was essentially restricted to wealthy women.

Abortion was banned, and women were not allowed to vote or hold public office.

As capitalism developed in Russia between 1896 and 1899, it spurred women out of the home for the first time — but also increased their workload. Girls as young as 12 years old, or even younger, toiled away in factories, working 18 hour days for meager pay. At home, they were expected to help with household chores.

Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, wrote about this contradication, observing that “it is indisputable that the capitalist factory places these categories of the working population in particularly hard conditions, and that for them it is particularly necessary to regulate and shorten the working day, to guarantee hygienic conditions of labor, etc.

But endeavors completely to ban the work of women and juveniles in industry, or to maintain the patriarchal manner of life that ruled out such work, would be reactionary and utopian.”

The textile and metal industries soon saw masses of women workers join, who quickly formed the majority of workers in these factories. This was to have a profound impact on how the revolution unfolded.

The Bolsheviks counter petty-bourgeois feminists

The women’s struggle emerged in 1889, through the social democratic movement. Study circles were set up by Mikhail Ivanovich Brusnyev, that at its roots were based on Marxist ideas and had the goal of a socialist revolution. By 1890, these circles were teeming with women workers, with some 20 existing across Russia.

Five years later, the various social democratic circles merged to form the Union of Struggle, the forerunner to the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. Among its 17 founding members were four women, including Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Lenin’s partner.

While the “woman question” was on the program of all Russian opposition parties by that point, it was the Bolsheviks that would take on uniting the working class not only on national divisions, but the gender divide as well. It was the Bolsheviks too that would immediately implement all demands from working women after taking power in 1917.

The turn of the century saw mass unrest in Tsarist Russia, which ultimately transpired into the 1905 Russian Revolution, where women participated in great numbers. That year, more than 50 Soviets — effectively, regional people’s councils, made up of peasants, workers and soldiers — sprang up, with women revolutionaries assigned some of the most dangerous tasks.

One cotton weaving factory, Kashintsev, elected more women than men to the Soviet: 7 out of 8 members.

After the 1905 Revolution, the Bolsheviks worked to win women and organize them within the ranks of their party. Their efforts prevailed: at the Social Democratic Labor Party’s Fifth Congress in 1907, the Bolsheviks had five women delegates for every woman Menshevik delegate, which was the other, more moderate faction of the party.

Despite this, the Bolsheviks came under attack by petty-bourgeois feminists for failing to care about women’s issues. Well outside the labor movement, the primary concern of this group was women’s right to education — meaning, they were only addressing a tiny group of women in Russia at the time.

As the Bolsheviks rejected the petty-bourgeois feminists’ claims that women’s liberation could be fought without socialism, Lenin reiterated the importance of abolishing class oppression alongside the struggle for democratic demands.

“Marxists know that democracy does not abolish class oppression, but only makes the class struggle clearer, broader, more open and sharper; and this is what we want. The more complete freedom of divorce is, the clearer will it be to the woman that the source of her ‘domestic slavery’ is not the lack of rights, but capitalism,” he wrote in 1916. “The more democratic the system of government is, the clearer it will be to the workers that the root of the evil is not the lack of rights, but capitalism.”

Clara Zetkin, the German Marxist that first called for International Working Women’s Day, also spoke out firmly against “bourgeois feminism.”

“The proletarian woman ends up in the proletarian camp, the bourgeois woman in the bourgeois camp. We must not let ourselves be fooled by Socialist trends in the bourgeois women’s movement which last only as long as bourgeois women feel oppressed,” she warned.

These warnings rang true: the lack of class perspective within the petty-bourgeois feminist movement led them to support World War I, believing that once men were off to fight, women could play a greater role in society.

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It was the Bolsheviks who opposed the war, calling it a war by imperialists and capitalists at the expense of the working masses. It was also women Bolsheviks who rallied and persuaded the soldiers stationed in Petrograd to join the movement. Many soon left their posts and joined the Bolshevik ranks.

bolshevik woman 1923 magazine.jpgA 1923 edition of the Soviet women’s Bolshevik magazine Rabotnitsa.
| Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 1914 the Bolsheviks began a journal aimed at working women, called “Rabotnitsa,” or “Women Workers.” With the first edition published on International Working Women’s Day of that year, seven more were issued before the Tsarist government clamped down on the publication.

Women and revolution

After the February Revolution of 1917, the Provisional Government came to power, toppling Tsar Nicholas II and ending the Russian empire

As time passed and the people’s demands for “Peace, Bread and Land” were not met, the Bolsheviks grew in popularity, as they called for the overthrow of the bourgeois Provisional Government.

More organizing was needed, and women workers were a key element of this process. They not only participated in strikes and demonstrations but also were a part of the armed defense of the revolution, dying alongside men of the Red Guards, the armed wing of the Bolsheviks.

Bolshevik women, in the months leading up to the October Revolution, took part in all activities: speaking at public meetings, distributing leaflets, transporting weapons, and providing care for the wounded.

In this fervor, the Bolsheviks began publishing “Rabotnitsa” again, with Krupskaya and many other women workers from Petrograd on the editorial board.

Lenin, during this time, wrote many articles about the importance of calling women workers to fight for socialism.

The pioneering advances for women under the Bolsheviks

Finally, on Oct. 25, 1917, the armed masses belonging to the Petrograd Soviet, which had been won over to socialist revolution by the Bolsheviks, occupied all public buildings, stormed the Winter Palace and arrested the Provisional Government members.

The Bolsheviks immediately set out ensuring equality between men and women. Just four days after taking power, they introduced the 8-hour working day, advancing possibilities for women, especially working-class women, to take part in politics.

Soon, the restriction on women’s freedom was removed. Women were given equal right to own land.

The church and state were also separated, marking one of the most profound shifts in women’s right: women were given free access to abortion, making Russia the first country in the world to grant this legal right.

Marriage also now took place with equal consent, and divorce was made as easy as possible for both parties.

The concept of illegitimate children was abolished, allowing all children to be treated equally. Paid maternity leave was granted both before and after birth, while night work for pregnant women and women who had just given birth was prohibited. In addition, special maternity wards were set up.

Alexandra Kollontai.gif

Alexandra Kollontai

Long before women would be granted the right to vote in capitalist countries such as the U.K., the United States, Sweden or France, women in Russia could vote by 1917.

Aleksandra Kollontai also became the world’s first woman minister when she was appointed People’s Commissar of Social Welfare shortly after the October Revolution.

The advances in women’s rights and equality ushered in by the Bolshevik Revolution also came part in parcel with advances in rights for other oppressed groups as well. In 1918, a decree was passed abolishing all pre-revolutionary Tsarist laws. The 1922 Criminal Code, for example, decriminalized homosexuality.

“The present sexual legislation in the Soviet Union is the work of the October Revolution,” the Bolshevik Grigorii Batkis, Director of the Institute for Social Hygiene, said at the time.

In November 1918, a series of small women’s conferences culminated in the first All-Russian Congress of Working Women.

During the conference, many new women joined the Bolshevik Party, as well as the women militias, “The Red Sisters,” to actively fight the counter-revolutionary forces known as the White Army, who had the backing of foreign governments.

The women’s department of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks, who had since changed their name to the Russian Communist Party, organized women in the factories and villages into the party.

The Zhenotdel, as the women’s department was known, soon launched a magazine, “Komitska,” with Krupskaya as editor. By 1927, over 18 different women’s magazines were published with a circulation of 386,000, focused on women’s liberation and socialism.

Thanks to the Zhenotdel, women’s membership in the party doubled by 1932, with women making up 15.9 percent, compared to just 8 percent a decade earlier.

”No party or revolution in the world has ever dreamed of striking so deep at the roots of the oppression and inequality of women as the Soviet, Bolshevik revolution is doing,” Lenin observed in 1921. “Over here, in Soviet Russia, no trace is left of any inequality between men and women under the law. The Soviet power has eliminated all there was of the especially disgusting, base and hypocritical inequality in the laws on marriage and the family and inequality in respect of children.”

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“This is only the first step in the liberation of woman. But none of the bourgeois republics, including the most democratic, has dared to take even this first step,” he added.

In 1922, with the creation of the USSR, the Soviet government sought to socialize housework. This was done by creating things such as public nurseries, kindergartens, kitchens and public laundries. The idea was to reduce household labor to a minimum, allowing women the freedom to pursue waged work, education and enjoy leisure time on par with men.

Long after the Bolshevik Revolution, the difference in women’s conditions was staggering. Compared to Tsarist times, life expectancy doubled by the 1970s, from 30 to nearly 74. Infant mortality was also reduced by 90 percent in that time period. Women soared in education, with only 10 percent enrolled in secondary school in 1926 to 97 percent by 1958.

From the first study circles at the turn of the century to the women-led uprising that incited the February Revolution, to the thousands of Bolshevik women who fought on behalf of the working class, the first worker’s state in the world would never have become a reality without the steely, militant determination of women.