Chapter 8: Women, families & education in Stalin's Russia
- Stalin believed that the Soviet people were living completely free of exploitation ' because Collectivisation and the Five Year Plans had abolished Capitalism (how?). However, he was not considering exploitation which wasn't related to class. There were still many inequalities and forms of exploitation, in the workplace and at home.
- Senior members of the Communist Party believed that by the 1930's, sexual equality had been achieved, and thus closed down the Zhenotdel, the women's branch of the Communist Central Committee. This showed their lack of insight and perspective, as they were far from correct.
- Due to the high demands of the Five Year Plans, women joined the workforce in huge numbers.
- By the 1940's, women made up large parts or majorities of factories.
- The government realised the importance of women's contribution to the workforce, and therefore provided more higher and technical education for them.
- However, their income was still extremely lower than that of men.
- Women were extremely prominent in farming, as the majority of collective farm workers were women
- Women were also represented in the Stakhanovite movement, with highly publicised figures such as Pasha Angelina (organiser of the first Women's Tractor Brigade) and Maria Demchanko (1936, she pledged to harvest 4 X the average yield of sugar beet)
- There was a significant drop in birthrate following the devastation's of industrialisation (working and living conditions) and collectivisation.
- The Communist government tried to reverse this, by encouraging women to produce large families through the prospect of rewards. A women with 6 children could be considered for state help, a woman with 7 received 2000 roubles a year for five years, a woman with 11 children received 5000 roubles per year for five years. The result was that thousands of women had lots of children, in order to earn this valuable women, and the population increased massively.
- In 1936, the Soviet authorities made abortion illegal (except for certain cases), and doctors performing abortions, or husbands pressuring their wives to have them, could receive a punishment of two years imprisonment.
- Whilst being expected to work on collective farms or in industry, women were also expected to do endless housework, following the motto of 'church, cooker, children'. Men were liberated from the duties of chores through developing technology, but women weren't.
- Wives of Communist party officials often had nannies so that they themselves could still engage in politics. However, by the end of the 1920's, this was no longer considered suitable, and women had to work full-time creating respectable Communist homes.
- The 'Wives Activist Movement' - An organisation which the wives of party officials were expected to be involved, which provided care (libraries, activities, nurseries etc.) for ill children and the needy. The incentive was that they…