The Women’s Revolution – Russia 1905 – 1917 – Judy Cox (2017)

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For most people the leaders of the Russian revolution were Lenin and Trotsky. This book provides an outline of the events that led to the first socialist state in October 1917. But more importantly, it describes the roles played by all the popular people, women as well as the men.

The book introduces many people to the other Bolshevik leaders. These included Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife, Inessa Armand, Alexandra Kollontai (all having key roles in the initial Bolshevik Government) and Lenin’s two sisters Anna and Maria Ulyanova. “The first ever woman to lead a national government in modern Europe was Bolshevik Eugenia Bosh, who was leader of the soviet government of Ukraine in 1917.” As this book makes clear, these women were all leading Bolsheviks in their own right.

As Judy says, “Women had to throw off centuries of oppression to claim their place in the revolution. They had to face down Kossacks armed with whips, the ingrained sexism and prejudice of male workers, and their own lack of confidence and experience. The fact that some women achieved this is testimony to the potential of self-emancipation of the working class to win women’s liberation.”

The revolutionary process began on International Women’s Day in February 1905. The women went from the factory to factory pulling the men out on strike. It needed action by the socialist government, but also mass campaigns to fundamentally change a feudal society that had been run by the Romanov family for 300 years.

Within a few years, women were more liberated than in any western industrial country. Women had already won the right to vote before the workers seized power. “After a 40,000-strong protest march, the government eventually granted universal women’s suffrage in July 1917. Women over the age of 30 were granted the right to vote in England the following year. English women did not win universal suffrage until 1928.”

“The Code on Marriage, the Family, and Guardianship was ratified in October 1918. It allowed both spouses to retain rights to their own property and earnings, abolished all distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate children, and made divorce available upon request.”
But also: “They established crèches and schools to free women from childcare and enable them to participate in the workforce. By 1919, some 90 percent of Petrograd’s population had access to public restaurants, washing facilities and childcare.” “The principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ was enshrined in law. By 1920, Russian women had the right to abortion – 53 years before the USA and 47 years before Britain.”

This book is a wonderful introduction to what we mean by socialism, as self-emancipation, but also what we mean by feminism. We need to organise as women and men to achieve both women’s liberation and socialism. We need far more people to read this book and join us in the twin struggles for our liberation from the corrupt elite and patriarchy.
For a free download of this book, please visit Iva Valley Books website:

17 thoughts on “The Women’s Revolution – Russia 1905 – 1917 – Judy Cox (2017)

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