Alexandra Kollontai 1946
Source: Alexandra Kollontai: Selected Articles and Speeches, Progress Publishers, 1984;
First Published: Sovetskaya zhenshchina,(Soviet Woman), No. 5, September-October, 1946, pp. 3-4, abridged.
Transcribed: Sally Ryan for marxists.org, 2000;
Proofed: and corrected by Chris Clayton 2006.
It is a well-known fact that the Soviet Union has achieved exceptional successes in drawing women into the active construction of the state. This generally accepted truth is not disputed even by our enemies. The Soviet woman is a full and equal citizen of her country. In opening up to women access to every sphere of creative activity, our state has simultaneously ensured all the conditions necessary for her to fulfil her natural obligation – that of being a mother bringing up her children and mistress of her home.
From the very beginning, Soviet law recognised that motherhood is not a private matter, but the social duty of the active and equal woman citizen. This proposition is enshrined in the Constitution. The Soviet Union has solved one of the most important and complex of problems how to make active use of female labour in any area without this being to the detriment of motherhood.
A great deal of attention has been given to the organisation of public canteens, kindergartens, Young Pioneer camps, playgrounds and creches – those institutions which, as Lenin wrote, facilitate in practice the emancipation of women and are able, in practice, to reduce the female inequality vis-a-vis men. More than seven thousand women's and children's consultation centres have been established in the USSR, of which half are in rural areas. Over 20 thousand creches have been organised. It should be pointed out here that in tsarist Russia in 1913 there existed only 19 creches and 25 kindergartens, and even these were not maintained by the state, but by philanthropic organisations.
The Soviet state provides increasing material assistance to mothers. Women receive allowances and paid leave before and after the birth of the child and their post is kept open for them until they return from leave.
Large and one-parent families receive state allowances to help them provide for and bring up their children. In 1945 the state paid out more than two thousand million roubles in such allowances. The title 'Mother-Heroine' has been awarded to more than 10 thousand women in the RSFSR alone, while the order of 'Maternal Glory' and the 'Medal of Motherhood' have been awarded to 1,100 thousand women.
Soviet women have justified the trust and concern shown to them by their state. They have shown a high degree of heroism both in peaceful, creative labour before the war, during the years of armed battle against the nazi invaders, and now, in the efforts to fulfil the monumental tasks set by the new five-year plan. Many branches of industry in which female labour is predominant are among the first to fulfil their plans. Equally worthy of mention are the enormous achievements of the Soviet peasant women, who bore on their shoulders the greater part of the burden of agricultural labour during the war years.
Our women have mastered professions that have long been considered the exclusive domain of men. There are women engine-drivers, women mechanics, women lathe operators, women fitters, well-qualified women workers in charge of the most complex mechanisms.
The women of the Soviet Union work on an equal footing with men to advance science, culture and the arts; they occupy an outstanding place in the national education and health services.
In a country where, 30 years ago, out of 2,300 thousand working women 1,300 thousand worked as servants in the towns and 750 thousand as farm labourers in the countryside, in a country where there were almost no women engineers, almost no scientists, and appointment to a teaching post was accompanied by conditions insulting to female dignity, in that country there are now 750 thousand women teachers, 100 thousand women doctors, and 250 thousand women engineers. Women make up one half of the student body in institutions of higher education. Over 33 thousand women are working in laboratories and in research institutes, 25 thousand women have academic titles and degrees, and 166 women have been awarded the State Prize for their achievements in science and work.
The women of the Soviet Union are implementing their political rights in practice. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR has 277 women deputies, while 256 thousand women have been elected to rural, urban, regional and republican organs of state power...
The women of the Soviet Union do not have to demand from their government the right to work, the right to education, the right to the protection of motherhood. The state itself, the government itself, draws women into work, giving them wide access to every sphere of social life, assisting and rewarding mothers.
During the years of invasion by nazi aggressors, Soviet women, and the women of other democratic countries, saw with their own eyes the need to wage a tireless battle against nazism until every trace of it had been removed. Only this will spare the world the threat of new wars.
The struggle for democracy and lasting peace, the struggle against reaction and fascism, is the main task we face today. To cut women off from this basic and important task, to attempt to confine them within 'purely female', feminist organisations, can only weaken the women's democratic movement. Only the victory of democracy can ensure women equality.
We, the women of the Land of Soviets, are devoting all our energy to creative labour, to the fulfilment of the monumental tasks set by the five-year plan, knowing that in so doing we are strengthening the bulwark of peace throughout the world – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
At the same time we must be on the alert for intrigues by the reactionaries and expose their plans and intentions, their attempts to divide the ranks of democracy.
The unity of all the forces of democracy is our most reliable weapon in the struggle against reaction, in the struggle for freedom and peace throughout the world.