Women’s Rights in the 1936 USSR
December 1, 2012 — 7:27

Author: | Category: Lithographs of Byev Yordansky | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off
Women's Right to Work

International Communist Women’s Day commemorates women’s right and duty to work on March 8 of every year

“Working women of all countries, get into the front lines with the fighters against fascism and capitalist exploitation!”

So says the woman in this poster. Women in the workplace was so important to the Soviets that this poster was reprinted as late as 1950. It commemorates International Communist Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8 of every year.

Woman factory worker. From "Stalinism as a Way of Life" yale/edu

Factory worker collection from 1939 World’s Fair “Stalinism as a Way of Life”

Women ‘s right and duty  to work was established by the rules of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917. Then, when war developed with Germany, the USSR needed workers to replace the men gone off to war. Women were needed in the work force in many countries during the war years, but in the newly formed USSR so many men had been arrested or starved during the previous decade,  that the USSR was in even greater need of workers  than most other countries during the 1930s.  Women were called, in posters like this one, to fill many of the jobs that had formerly been given exclusively to men.

According to M Pichugina, In the 1936 book, Women in the USSR:

Women are accorded public honor for good work or the attainment of greater proficiency or skill.

A number of professions which were regarded for centuries as being strictly “mens'” jobs” are now being “captured” by women. Before the Revolution, women were forbidden to hold positions of any importance on the railroads. Now there are over half a million women working on the railroads in the U.S.S.R., many of them occupying key positions. Among these women railroad workers there are 400 station masters, 1,400 assistant station masters, and about 10,000 railroad engineers and technicists.

Any Soviet working woman or collective farmer who has the desire and who shows the necessary organizational abilities has the opportunity of becoming the manager of any Soviet enterprise.

The U.S.S.R. has its women engineers, physicians, fliers, scientists and executives. There is no branch of industry, agriculture, science or art, and no phase of executive or government work in which women are not employed. There are more than 100,000 women engineers and technicists employed in large-scale industry or in the building trades in the Soviet Union, whereas in all the other countries of the world combined there are less than 10,000 women engineers.



 woman driving tractor. From "Women in the USSR" 1936 by M. Pichugina.

Woman driving tractor. From “Women in the USSR” 1936 by M. Pichugina

The employment of women had much to do with the establishment of “Kindergartens”. Women were given a two month leave for child-bearing, after which time, childcare was provided by the Kindergarten.

Do Not Ever  be Late for Work

The catch was, showing up for work late more than three time, absenteeism, or a refusal to work, resulted in imprisonment. Any babies born in the women’s prison were permanently removed to “Kindergartens.”  Most of the women were never reunited with their children or other loved ones.


gulag  women living in  barracks

Gulag women living in overcrowded, poorly heated barracks.Courtesy of the International Memorial Society.


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