The Great Retreat - women, family and education in Stalins Russia

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The Communist party's official policy was that woman and men were equal. In 1919 a woman's department was set up in the party called Zhenotdel under the leadership of Alexandra Kollontai. The Zhenotdel proposed liberal policies towards woman such as simple methods of divorce, the spread of female literacy and allowing abortion on demand. It did it's utmost to undermine the family as it saw it as a symbol of pre-Revolutionary oppression.

These policies had some pretty mixed results. More women entered the workforce, from 3 million in 1929 to 13 million by 1940, which was roughly equal to 41% of the total industrial workforce. Educational opportunities for women were improved and by 1940 over half of the university students were women, which created new job opportunities for them in areas such as medicine and engineering.

However, by the late 20s, more than half of all marriages were ending in divorce which left many women impoverished and unable to raise their children. Consequently, there was a growth of gangs of orphans and unwanted children, especially in the cities, which resulted in higher crime rates. Furthermore, woman made very little progress within the communist party, making up a small proportion of the membership and only Kollontai managed to reach a high position.

Stalins industrial and agricultural policies had also weakened the family ties, as collectivisation lead to many families have to moving from their homelands into the cities hundreds, possibly thousands in extreme cases, of miles away.

As a result of all of this, Stalin began to promote tradition family values. The…


sophie Ward


This is exactly what I need as it is all in this piece of writing, you've saved me from one late night of highlighting! thanks!

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