The 8th of March (1947)

Alexandra Kollontai

The International Women’s Day – March 8, is coming, the celebration of female achievements and the Day of struggle of women of all nations and nationalities for women’s equality, and hence for the victory of democracy and peace.

When at the International Conference of Socialists in Copenhagen in 1910 Clara Zetkin made a proposal to establish March 8 as International Women’s Day and to celebrate it every year under the banner of struggle for equality and emancipation of women, all delegations unanimously adopted this proposal. But Clara Zetkin put forward at the same time also the second task of the 8th of March: namely, the joint struggle of women in all countries of the world against the policies of imperialist governments, leading to the inevitable bloody clashes between the nations.

In those years, the war seemed to us far away, we could not imagine that in the next 40 years, humanity will survive the horror and shock of the two imperialist wars. But a clear mind and a strong Marxist thinking allowed Zetkin to foresee that the tasks of the 8th of March are not limited to the issues of women’s rights, and will inevitably be intertwined with the fight for democracy and against the warmongers.

For the second year, women of all countries celebrate March the 8th in peaceful conditions, but the wounds left over from the Nazi atrocities and invasions are still fresh. Still in all countries there is feverish work ongoing for restoring the economy and culture after severe post-war turmoil and destruction. Acute wounds are still aching, caused by the loss of our heroic husbands and sons.

Democratic women of all countries were able to show themselves to be good patriots, selflessly fighting for the freedom and independence of their countries, bravely fighting and dying for the great ideals of humanity.

And now, after the two imperialist wars, in almost all the countries of Europe, America, Mexico, China women received political equality; however, in the colonial countries and among national minorities (e.g. Negroes in the US), women still have no rights.

If the self-sacrificing struggle of the British suffragettes, if the wildest dreams of Olympe de Gouges in France, Suzanne Anton in the United States, Frederick Bremer in Sweden, Camilla Caleta in Norway, Mary Wollstonecraft in England and of thousands of other fighters for women’s political rights are finally realized, in a number of other areas demands of women for their rights are far from being realized. Therefore, on March 8, 1947 the demands remain in force, such as equal pay for equal work, closely linked to the right to education and to the highest qualifications, elimination of inequality of women by marital code of laws in most bourgeois countries, and finally, the organization of living conditions so that each woman could combine her professional work and motherhood.

Only in the USSR all of the above requirements are not on the agenda for women. They were made a reality by the Stalin Constitution and entered into effect. From the first days, the Soviet power recognized in full the equality of its citizens of all Soviet republics, whether it is a woman or a backward nomadic nation or an Eskimo woman of the hunting tribes of the far north. The Soviet Union achieved at the same time the most difficult task – after having given the rights to women, it has provided her the opportunity to fulfil their social responsibilities, created a widely developed network of institutions to provide maternity care for the family and children.

And that is especially important and significant, while in all other countries, women had and even still have to fight for the right to participate in politics and in government, in the USSR Soviet government from the first days of its existence, not only did everything to involve women in politics and to put them in positions of responsibility, but also managed to raise the masses of women in Russia, workers, peasants, intellectuals, and to prepare them for the state positions, for the following functions, from small roles (organization of nurseries, health centres) to high government positions (ministers, ambassadors, members of the Supreme Soviet).

Today in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR there are women elected.

The Soviet state involves women not only in all areas of work as full and equal citizens, but also seeks to use the talents of women in science, administration, technology, and even in military affairs.

It is not necessary to repeat here about the role that heroic Russian women have played in the struggle against fascism and the victory over the German invaders. Their role is well known and recognized by all Democrats of our planet. During the Great Patriotic War various orders were awarded to 119,789 women, and 47 women received the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

The Stalin Constitution, which asserts the full equality of women, puts women in a special position in the USSR. It seems that March the 8th loses its significance here. But do not forget about the second task of the 8th of March – on the joint struggle of women in all countries for the policy of peace, for the fight against warmongers.

The Soviet Union in its international policy is doing everything to root out the remnants of fascism, to curb the imperialist tendencies of violence against the will of other countries and nations.

In this difficult goal of the struggle for the strengthening of the policy of peace the hearts of Soviet women are united with the wishes of all Democratic Women of all countries on the day of March 8, 1947.

Our goal is the friendship between the peoples, the fight against warmongers in all countries. This task can be done effectively if women will rely on international women’s solidarity and support of the International Democratic Federation of Women.

The victory of democracy provides women with equal rights and removes the threat of war.

The fight against the remnants of fascism, support of the political line of the Soviet Union in the United Nations for the consolidation of peace – this is the slogan of March 8, 1947.

RGASPI. F 134, Op. 1. Delo 292 LL, 1-4

Translated from the Russian by Irina Malenko

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