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Issue #1908      March 23, 2020

Women achieve real equality under socialism

As soon as the Russian workers took power in 1917, their government, the Soviet Government, brought about a complete revolution in the laws affecting women.

“Of the laws which placed women in a subordinate position, not a trace has been left in the Soviet Republic” said Lenin to a conference of women workers in 1919.

Since then, in all other countries where the people have taken power (now comprising one-third of the world’s population) their governments have assured women complete legal, social and economic equality with men.

In the Soviet Union, and those countries of People’s Democracy which have already adopted new Constitutions, such equality is written into the Constitutions.

Article 122 of the Constitution of the USSR states:

“Women in the USSR are accorded equal rights with men in all spheres of economic, government, cultural, political and other public activity […]”

It is one thing to have formal equal rights, and another to enjoy them in everyday life. Equality of women under Socialism has been assured by their own struggles and the full assistance of the State.

That is why Article 122 continues:

“The possibility of exercising these rights is ensured by women being accorded an equal right with men to work, payment for work, rest and leisure, social insurance and education, and by State protection of the interests of mother and child, State aid to mothers of large families and unmarried mothers, and the provision of a wide network of maternity homes, nurseries and kindergartens.

Because of such special provisions, and assistance, the women pictured on this page are not unique in their own countries. They are representative. In 1949 Soviet statistics showed:

277 women Deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR; more than 1700 of Supreme Soviets of Union and Autonomous Republics; half a million Deputies of local Soviets.

“Not a single great movement of the oppressed in the history of mankind has been able to do without the participation of working women.”

“There can be no true emancipation of women without the victory of the working class and socialism.” — V. I. Lenin.

Millions of women workers, masters of highly skilled trades, 280,000 engineers, technicians, skilled factory workers. Hundreds of thousands awarded Orders and medals.

Many thousands in charge of collective farms, leading field teams, managing stock-raising farms. Tens of thousands driving tractors, harvester combines and other complex agricultural machines.

Widely exercising their right to education, women have grown into a great cultural force of Soviet society. Forty-four per cent of total graduates from higher educational establishments were women; 237 had won Stalin prizes for outstanding work in the sphere of science, inventions, literature and art.

Motherhood and the rearing of children in the USSR are honoured and respected. The Soviet State assigns enormous funds to aid mothers with large families and unmarried mothers.

Freed from thousands of years of feudal oppression and slavery, in the three years since Liberation China’s women have responded to the new life open to them with an enthusiasm and initiative that has astonished the world.

The People’s Government immediately swept away the old marriage laws which kept Chinese women in complete bondage.

“Women shall enjoy equal rights with men in political, economic, cultural, educational and social life. Freedom of marriage for men and women shall be put into effect,” says Article 6, Common Program (basic law).

China’s women are now working with enthusiasm and success in every branch of the national economy, in fields where they were unknown before. Many have achieved nation-wide fame and honour for their new working methods.

In Northeast and East China alone, over 6400 women have been promoted to workshop and factory managers.

In the countryside, the 40 million women who joined the peasant associations were an important force in carrying out the now completed land reform. As a result millions upon millions are working whole-heartedly to create record harvests. To help their work, seasonal nurseries and creches are organised on a wide scale; new methods of midwifery and childcare have been introduced. Women are learning use of agricultural implements and scientific farming methods.

As eagerly the women have joined in the great construction projects. To take but two examples. Over 300,000 women took part in the Huai River and Chinkiang flood control projects.

Last year women already numbered fifteen per cent in primary government units throughout China and more in the cities. Many women occupy important posts in the government at all levels. The majority of women, still illiterate, are taking the keenest part in the general campaign to end illiteracy.

Women workers and workers’ wives are entitled to maternity benefits. A network of child-welfare centres, creches and nurseries is gradually spreading over vast China.

And in the towns and cities, for the first time in their history, China’s workers are beginning to leave their primitive huts and move into modern flats and homes.

When the Australian people take control of this country into their own hands, Australian women will also have legal equality and play their part in building a Socialist Australia — which alone will assure them full status as human beings.

Article originally appeared in the Tribune, March 1953.

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