“Working women, the most oppressed among the oppressed, never have or could stand aside from the broad path of the liberation movement. This movement of slaves has produced, as is known, hundreds and thousands of martyrs and heroines. Tens of thousands of working women were to be found in the ranks of fighters for the liberation of the serfs. It is not surprising that millions of working women have been drawn in beneath the banners of the revolutionary movement of the working class, the most powerful of all liberation movements of the oppressed masses.”
— JV Stalin
Although some bourgeois countries had before 1917 made a few concessions towards women’s formal equality (for instance, Finland had given the right to women to be elected to its parliament, its first three women MPs having attended the 1910 women’s conference in Copenhagen), no country could match the comprehensive abolition of all laws discriminating against women that was implemented by the Bolshevik government following the October revolution.
The Bolsheviks introduced divorce and civil marriage laws that made marriage a voluntary alliance. They abolished all distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children. They gave women employment rights equal to those of men, equal pay for equal work (a concept not introduced in Britain until 1970, following the strike of the women machinists at Ford in Dagenham), and rights to paid leave during pregnancy and after the birth of children. They set an example that astounded the world and shook the foundations of women’s oppression in all countries to its foundation.
Women workers must stand shoulder to shoulder with the revolutionary proletariat as a whole to overthrow capitalism and establish and build socialism. And it stands to reason that the revolutionary proletariat must make attending to the needs of working-class women one of its most urgent priorities, both in the demands it makes of the capitalist class today and in the measures that it will implement when it takes state power in the future.
The ‘left’ in Britain today reflects class society as a whole, and, because of this, the role and status of women in political life has been diminished alongside the roll-back of the welfare state and other social gains that the working class of Britain temporarily enjoyed for a period after WW2.
As a result, there are far too few women taking part in revolutionary politics. Even worse, there are far too few women playing a leading role in their respective organisations. Red Youth and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) make a point of doing what they can to support women comrades in developing so that they can play active and leading roles in the party.
We have a number of leading women comrades in our ranks, and we hope the selection of videos below – speeches given by some of those comrades – will inspire other women – both young and old – to take part.
We would also ask all our comrades and sympathisers – both men and women – to read Frederick Engels’ great work The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. [See below for a video presentation on this subject.] This seminal book makes it absolutely clear that the oppression of women began back when society split into classes and shows that it will only end when class society has been finally abolished. The women’s question is therefore a class question, and the solution to it is to be found in the revolutionary struggle for socialism.
Our own comrades have also written a very good book on this subject, which we would recommend for all those who wish to understand the Marxist view of the women’s question. The book also reveals the limitations of the bourgeois ‘feminist’ movement, which has done rather less for British women in 45 years than the Soviet Union did in 10!