You are currently viewing The fight for women’s equality has been going on for 165 years and is not over yet

The fight for women’s equality has been going on for 165 years and is not over yet

Today is March 8, International Women’s Day. An opportunity to look back at the achievements of women’s struggle, but also to see the depth of the gap between the proclaimed idea of ​​women’s equality and the real situation in society.

Although Women’s Day is celebrated more today in the rest of the world than in America, the story of this holiday begins in the United States. Thus, the starting point of today’s Women’s Day is March 8, 1857, when textile workers in New York demonstrated due to poor working conditions and low wages, bravely enduring the police batons of early capitalism.

In memory of these brave workers, protests on March 8 took place in the following years: the most famous is the one from 1908, when more than 15,000 women marched through New York demanding shorter working hours, better wages and the right to vote. Finally, Women’s Day was first officially marked on March 8, 1909, also in the United States, by a declaration issued by the Socialist Party of America.

A year and a half later, in August and September 1910, the International Socialist Congress was held in Copenhagen, as well as the Second International Conference of Women, at which – at the suggestion of the famous German socialist Clare Zetkin – March 8 was officially established as International Women’s Day. .

The famous photo from Copenhagen highlights three heroines of the international women’s and workers’ movement among many male socialists: Polish-German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Russian Marxist feminist Alexandra Kollontaj, who will become a Bolshevik a few years later when the Bolsheviks come to power. the first woman in the world to join a government.

Rosa Luxemburg

After it was officially established in Copenhagen in 1910, Women’s Day was marked in 1911 by rallies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark, which gathered over a million people – these gatherings also marked the 40th anniversary of the Paris Commune.

On the eve of the First World War, women across Europe demonstrated for peace on March 8, 1913, and then the focus of the struggle for women’s rights shifted from America and Western Europe to Russia. There, in 1917, in just eight months, two revolutions will take place – February and October – which will significantly accelerate the emancipation of women. The main role will be played by the brilliant Bolshevik intellectual and close Leninist collaborator, agitator of free love and the prototype of the later hippie movement – the previously mentioned Alexandra Kollontaj.

Aleksandra Kollontai

The mass demonstrations on the occasion of the International Women’s Day in Russia, led by Kollontay in 1917 – and which began on February 23 according to the Russian Julian calendar, while on March 8 in the West – were in fact the first revolutionary step in the chain of February events which led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. and the formation of the Provisional Government, which immediately passed a law giving women the right to vote. Thus, Russia became the first great power to give women the right to vote.

Kollontaj made a special contribution to the emancipation of women through the organization “Zhenotdel” (feminist department of the Russian Communist Party), which he founded in 1919 together with the French-Russian revolutionary Inessa Armand. Zhenotdel worked to improve the status and living conditions of women in the USSR, through literacy and educational campaigns (in the Muslim republics of Soviet Central Asia and through “veil-removing” campaigns), and from the spring of 1920 published the magazine Kommunistka aspects of women’s emancipation and the need to permanently change the relationship between the sexes “.