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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

17 - Women and the state

from Part II - Russia and the Soviet Union: Themes and Trends

Summary

By the early twentieth century, far-reaching changes had begun to challenge Russia's traditional gender hierarchies. Women had established a significant presence in public life by the early twentieth century. Nearly half a million women, mainly of peasant origin, laboured in Russia's factories, constituting almost 30 per cent of the industrial labour force. The Revolution of 1905 demonstrated that no organisation or individual could speak for women as a group. Undermined by political divisions, the women's movement lost membership and momentum in the post-1905 reaction. Women constituted some 15 per cent of the membership of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and 10 per cent of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party on the eve of the First World War. During 1917, the Bolshevik Party made only half-hearted efforts to attract women. The death of Joseph Stalin and the rise of Nikita Khrushchev brought a shift in Soviet state's relationship to the 'question of women'.
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