J. V. Stalin
Source : Works, Vol.
5, 1921 - 1923
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.
Five years ago, the Central Committee of our Party convened in Moscow the First All-Russian Congress of Working Women and Peasant Women. Over a thousand delegates, representing not less than a million women toilers, gathered at the congress. That congress was a landmark in our Party's work among women toilers. The inestimable merit of that congress was that it laid the foundation for organising political enlightenment of the working women and peasant women in our Republic.
Some people might think that there is nothing exceptional about that, that the Party has always engaged in the political enlightenment of the masses, including women, that the political enlightenment of women cannot be of great importance, seeing that we have united cadres consisting of workers and peasants. That opinion is radically wrong. Now that power has passed into the hands of the workers and peasants, the political enlightenment of women toilers is of paramount importance.
And for the following reasons.
Our country has a population of about 140,000,000; of these, no less than half are women, mainly working women and peasant women, who are downtrodden, unenlightened and ignorant. Since our country has earnestly set to work to build the new, Soviet life, is it not obvious that the women, who constitute half its population, will be like a weight on its feet every time a step forward is taken if they remain downtrodden, unenlightened and ignorant?
The working woman stands side by side with the working man. Together with him she is carrying out the common task of building our industry. She can be of assistance in this common task if she is politically conscious, if she is politically enlightened. But she may wreck the common task if she is downtrodden and ignorant, wreck it not maliciously, of course, but because of her ignorance.
The peasant woman stands side by side with the peasant. Together with him she is carrying out the common task of developing our agriculture, of making it prosperous, of making it flourish. She can be of tremendous assistance in this matter if she rids herself of her ignorance. On the other hand, she may hinder the whole matter if she remains the captive of ignorance.
Working women and peasant women are free citizens, equal with working men and peasants. They take part in the election of our Soviets and co-operatives, and they can be elected to these bodies. The working women and peasant women can improve our Soviets and co-operatives, strengthen and develop them, if they are politically enlightened. But they can weaken and undermine them if they are ignorant.
Lastly, the working women and peasant women are mothers; they are rearing our youth—the future of our country. They can either warp a child's soul or rear for us a younger generation that will be of healthy mind and capable of promoting our country's progress, depending upon whether the mothers sympathise with the Soviet system or whether they follow in the wake of the priests, the kulaks, the bourgeoisie.
That is why the political enlightenment of working women and peasant women is now, when the workers and peasants have set to work to build the new life, a matter of paramount importance for the achievement of real victory over the bourgeoisie.
That is why the significance of the First Congress of Working Women and Peasant Women, which initiated the work of political enlightenment among women toilers, is really inestimable.
Five years ago, at the First Congress of Working Women and Peasant Women, the Party's immediate task was to draw hundreds of thousands of working women into the common task of building the new, Soviet life; and in the front ranks stood the working women in the industrial districts, for they were the most active and politically conscious elements among the women toilers. It must be admitted that no little has been done in this respect during the past five years, although much still remains to be done.
The Party's immediate task now is to draw the millions of peasant women into the common task of building our Soviet life. The work of the past five years has already resulted in the promotion of a number of leaders from the ranks of the peasant women. Let us hope that the ranks of the peasant women leaders will be reinforced with additional enlightened peasant women. Let us hope that the Party will successfully cope with this task too.
Magazine Kommunistka, No. 11, November, 1923
1. The First All-Russian Congress of Working Women and Peasant Women took place in Moscow on November 16-21, 1918, and was attended by 1,147 women delegates. On November 19, V. I. Lenin addressed the Gongress. The congress expressed the wish that the Party Committees should set up special departments for work among women. After the congress, by a decision of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.), the Party Committees set up Commissions for Agitation and Propaganda Among Women, and the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) set up a Central Commission to direct this work.