Lives of women USSR

  • Created by: cjjl
  • Created on: 13-02-17 13:31


  • Before the revolution male attitudes to women were poor - Russian proverb 'the more you beat your wife the better your soup will taste'  
  • On seizing power the Communists established a womens branch of the central committe to promote the status of women in accordance with socialist equality.
  • Series of decrees passed by party feminists to promote this - divorce made easier so women wouldn't be trapped in abusive relationships/abortion legalised/law that women had to obey her husband abolished now only had to live with him and take his name/permission from husband no longer needed to take a job or study 
    • Effects - rise in divorce left children unsupported/few received financial support/70% divorces initiated by men/attitudes slow to change so equal rights had no impact
  • Radicals thought that communal organisation of child care would liberate women
  • 1917 - equal pay law passed 1918 constitution declared men and women equal - legally but not socially
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1918-21 Civil War

  • Women in the workforce increased as a neccessity not because of equality
  • BUT employment opportunities changed lives for the worse
    • 70 000 in the army but low ranks and millions in factories
    • Inadequate childcare
    • Jobs taken from them as the war ended as they were as a rule more unskilled workers
    • Traditional attitude that they were unsuitable for heavy work remained
    • The subsequent famine left many homeless and destitute
    • Prostitution rose
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Islamic Women

  • This was a community resistant to change - polygamous/male-dominated families 
  • Women were sheiled from public view - veiled and denied an education 
  • 1927 Female activists attempted to break trends by encouraging unveiling, teaching basic contraception, personal hygeine and childcare
    • successful to an extent - opportunities for them increased and female leaders celebrated
    • But resistance rife- violent meetings and women killed for refusing to wear traditional dress
  • 1930 - womens department - Zhenotdel - closed claiming all issues surrounding women had been sold
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Women in Politics

  • Women given the right to vote in 1917 by provisional gov but their active role remained very limited - declarations of sexual equality but women still majorly under-represented
  • Only 7 members in central committee - Lenin's wife and Alexandra Kollontai the most prominent 
  • Fluctuated over time
    • 1932 - women 16% of party membership
    • 1939 - only here that female delegates at the congress exceeded 10%
    • 1957 - Furtseva first woman in the Politburo - a favourite of Kruschev so left with his dismissal in 1964
    • 1988 - only here the next woman made the top  - Birayukova
  • Politcal power overwhelmingly in hands of men
  • As womens influence in politics remained low they could do little to change their unequal situation
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Female Role Models

  • Included: Ballerinas/Actresses/Figure skaters/Gymnasts
  • Propaganda always put the industiral worker as a male whilst the subsidary peasant was always female - reflected their position in society
  • Example - Valentina Tereshkova - impeccable proletarian background - became first woman in space in 1963 - revered as hero becoming a prominent party member 
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Collectivisation and Industrialisation - rural

  • Many men left for towns - some sent back money but many women deserted
  • Womens labour was relied on at lower wages with fewer extra services
  • Attitudes in the countryside more entrenched and slower to change
  • 1930's the internal passport system gave women freedom to move to townns - but males took this opportunity before the women could so they mostly remained wiht the low-status agricultural work
  • WW2 - able bodied men leave and women made up the bulk of the workforce
    • Red army requistioned machinery and animals 
  • Post War - soldiers tried to find employment in the cities leading to a major imblance in sexes, by 1950 some villages were entirley made up of women and children - women shackled themselves to ploughs due to lack of machinery
  • During Krushchev/Brezhnev years womens status slowly improved - healthcare/maternity benefits
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Collectivisation and Industrialisation - urban

  • 5 year plans gave women the impresssion they had to work as it was a socialist duty - also economic hardships made it a neccessity for survival
  • Higher education places start to be reserved for women which gave a route upwarssd in society but top levels still dominated by men
  • 1930's emergence of soviet elites wives doing social/charitable work
  • WW2 women in industry increased. Some joined the Red Army but were not thought suitable for active combat- this changed when heavy losses forced the gov to allow them to become pilots and machine gunners
  • Post - War women reverted to unskilled roles and lost jobs with status
    • But - 89 received the highest ' hero of the USSR' award 
    • The line between male and female roles was still there but blurred - women now expected to do a double duty with an job and domestic duties - double burden
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