The following is an exerpt from an article published in the newspaper Pravda one week before the first celebration of the "Day of
International Solidarity among the Female Proletariat" on March 8, 1913. In St Petersburg this day was marked by a call for a campaign
against women workers' lack of economic and political rights and for the unity of the working class, led by the self-emancipation of women
What is ‘Women’s Day’? Is it really necessary? Is it not a concession to the women of the bourgeois class, to the feminists and suffragettes?
Is it not harmful to the unity of the workers’ movement?
Such questions can still be heard in Russia, though they are no longer heard abroad. Life itself has already supplied a clear and eloquent answer.
‘Women’s Day’ is a link in the long, solid chain of the women’s proletarian movement. The organised army of working women grows with every year. Twenty years ago the trade unions contained only small groups of working women scattered here and there among the ranks of the workers party... Now English trade unions have over 292 thousand women members; in Germany around 200 thousand are in the trade union movement and 150 thousand in the workers party, and in Austria there are 47 thousand in the trade unions and almost 20 thousand in the party. Everywhere – in Italy, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland – the women of the working class are organising themselves.
There was a time when working men thought that they alone must bear on their shoulders the brunt of the struggle against capital, that they alone must deal with the ‘old world’ without the help of their womenfolk. However, as working-class women entered the ranks of those who sell their labour, forced onto the labour market by need, by the fact that husband or father is unemployed, working men became aware that to leave women behind in the ranks of the ‘non-class-conscious’ was to damage their cause and hold it back. The greater the number of conscious fighters, the greater the chances of success. What level of consciousness is possessed by a woman who sits by the stove, who has no rights in society, the state or the family? She has no ‘ideas’ of her own! Everything is done as ordered by the father or husband...
Socialists in every country began to demand special protection for female labour, insurance for mother and child, political rights for women and the defence of womens interests.
The more clearly the workers party perceived this second objective vis-a-vis women workers, the more willingly women joined the party,
the more they appreciated that the party is their true champion, that the working class is struggling also for their urgent and exclusively
But, some will say, why this singling out of women workers? Why special ‘Women’s Days’, special leaflets for working women, meetings
and conferences of working-class women? Is this not, in the final analysis, a concession to the feminists and bourgeois suffragettes?
Only those who do not understand the radical difference between the movement of socialist women and bourgeois suffragettes can think
What is the aim of the feminists? Their aim is to achieve the same advantages, the same power, the same rights within capitalist society as those possessed now by their husbands, fathers and brothers. What is the aim of the women workers? Their aim is to abolish all privileges deriving from birth or wealth. For the woman worker it is a matter of indifference who is the ‘master’ a man or a woman. Together with the whole of her class, she can ease her position as a worker.
Feminists demand equal rights always and everywhere. Women workers reply: we demand rights for every citizen, man and woman, but we are not prepared to forget that we are not only workers and citizens, but also mothers! And as mothers, as women who give birth to the future, we demand special concern for ourselves and our children, special protection from the state and society.
The feminists are striving to acquire political rights. However, here too our paths separate.
For bourgeois women, political rights are simply a means allowing them to make their way more conveniently and more securely in a world founded on the exploitation of the working people. For women workers, political rights are a step along the rocky and difficult path that
leads to the desired kingdom of labour.
The paths pursued by women workers and bourgeois suffragettes have long since separated. There is too great a difference between the objectives that life has put before them. There is too great a contradiction between the interests of the woman worker and the lady proprietress,
between the servant and her mistress... There are not and cannot be any points of contact, conciliation or convergence between
them. Therefore working men should not fear separate Women’s Days, nor special conferences of women workers, nor their special press.
Women’s Days and the slow, meticulous work undertaken to arouse the self-consciousness of the woman worker are serving the cause not
of the division but of the unification of the working class.
Let a joyous sense of serving the common class cause and of fighting simultaneously for their own female emancipation inspire women workers to join in the celebration of Women’s Day
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