Documents of the Comintern on Women

 

Clara Zetkin and other Communist women leaders at the Third Congress of the Comintern

July 1921

 

 

The Communist Women's International

1920 - 1930

( 17th of April 2014, published by the Comintern (SH) on occasion of the 94th anniversary of its foundation)

 

 

Congress of the Peoples of the East
Baku
September 1920

Seventh Session, September 7, 1920

Stenographic Report

 

Shabanova:

 

Comrades,

Comrade Nadzhiya, said: The women’s movement beginning in the East must not be looked at from the standpoint of those frivolous feminists who are content to see woman’s place in social life as that of a delicate plant or an elegant doll. This movement must be seen as a serious and necessary consequence of the revolutionary movement which is taking place throughout the world. The women of the East are not merely fighting for the right to walk in the street without wearing the chadra, as many people suppose. For the women of the East, with their high moral ideals, the question of the chadra, it can be said, is of the least importance. If the women who form half of every community are opposed to the men and do not have the same rights as they have, then it is obviously impossible for society to progress: the backwardness of Eastern societies is irrefutable proof of this.

Comrades, you can be sure that all our efforts and labours to realize new forms of social life, however sincere and however vigorous our endeavours may be, will remain without result if you do not summon the women to become real helpers in your work.

Owing to the conditions caused by the war, in Turkey women have been obliged to quit the home and the household and take on the performance of a variety of social duties. The fact that women have had to take over the responsibilities of the men who have been called up for military service, and especially the fact that women in the roadless localities of Anatolia which are inaccessible even to pack-animals have been themselves dragging artillery equipment and munitions to where the troops need them cannot, of course, be called a step forward in the conquest of equal rights for women: people who see the fact that women are making up with their labour for the shortage of beasts of burden as contributing to the cause of equal rights for women are unworthy of our attention. We do not deny that at the beginning of the 1908 revolution some measures were introduced for women’s benefit. In view, however, of the ineffectiveness and inadequacy of these measures we do not regard them as highly significant.

The opening of one or two lower and higher schools for women in the capital and in the provinces, and even the opening of a university for women, does not accomplish one thousandth part of what still needs to be done. From the Turkish Government, whose actions are based on the oppression and exploitation of the weaker by the stronger, one cannot, of course, expect more fundamental or serious measures on behalf of women held in bondage.

But we know, too, that the position of our sisters in Persia, Bukhara, Khiva, Turkestan, India and other Moslem countries is even worse. However, the injustice done to us and to our sisters has not remained unpunished. Proof of this is to be. seen in the backwardness and decline of all the countries of the East. Comrades, you must know that the evil done to women has never passed and will never pass without retribution.

Because the session of the Congress of the Peoples of the East is drawing to its close we are obliged through lack of time to refrain from discussing the position of women in the various countries of the East. But let the comrade delegates who are entrusted with the great mission of taking back to their homelands the great principles of the revolution not forget that all the efforts they devote to winning happiness for the peoples will remain fruitless unless there is real help from the women. The Communists consider it necessary, in order to get rid of all misfortunes, to create a classless society, and to this end they declare relentless war against all the bourgeois and privileged elements. The women Communists of the East have an even harder battle to wage because, in addition, they have to fight against the despotism of their menfolk. If you, men of the East, continue now, as in the past, to be indifferent to the fate of women, you can be sure that our countries will perish, and you and us together with them: the alternative is for us to begin, together with all the oppressed, a bloody life-and-death struggle to win our rights by force. I win briefly set forth the women’s demands. If you want to bring about your own emancipation, listen to our demands and render us real help and co-operation.

1) Complete equality of rights.

2) Ensuring for women unconditional opportunity to make use of the educational and vocational-training institutions established for men.

3) Equality of rights of both parties to marriage. Unconditional abolition of polygamy.

4) Unconditional admission of women to employment in legislative and administrative institutions.

5) Everywhere, in cities, towns and villages, committees for the rights and protection of women to be established.

Undoubtedly we can ask for all of this. The Communists, recognising that we have equal rights, have reached out their hand to us, and we women will prove their most loyal comrades. True, we may be stumbling in pathless darkness, we may be standing on the brink of yawning chasms, but we are not afraid, because we know that in order to see the dawn one has to pass through the dark night.

 

 

 

 

Clara Zetkin


Third Congress of the Communist International

Report on Communist Women’s Movement
July 8, 1921

Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921

 

 

Clara Zetkin

Methods and Forms of Work among Communist Party Women

Third Congress of the Communist International

July 8, 1921

 

Resolutions on International Ties between Communist Women and the International Communist Women’s Secretariat

July 1921

 

Resolution on the Work of the International Communist Women ’s Secretariat

 

27 November 1922

Fourth Congress of the Communist International

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clara Zetkin

Report on Communist Work among Women

27. November 1922

Fourth Congress of the Communist International

 

 

Clara Zetkin

Organising Working Women

Speech- held on the Fourth Congress of the Communist International

November 1922

 

 

 

Long Live March 8, the International Women's Day !

From For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy
No. 5 (32), March 1, 1949

 

Women of the World Fight for Democracy Against Warmongers

N. Popova


Vice-Chairman, World Federation of Democratic Women
Chairman, Anti-Fascist Committee of Soviet Women

This year all working women will celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8, in conditions of intense struggle for peace and against imperialist aggression. On this day, millions of women will express their firm determination to strengthen international solidarity, to unite more closely in the ranks of the democratic camp headed by the land of Socialism – the Soviet Union – and to intensify the struggle for peace and world security.

The women of the Soviet Union, active builders of Communism, are marching at the head of the powerful democratic movement of the women of the world. The Communist Party and Soviet power have given Soviet women complete political and economic equality, the opportunity of fully developing their abilities and creative forces. Educated by the Party of Lenin and Stalin, the Soviet woman has become a mighty force in building Soviet society.

In Soviet industry, thousands of women are factory managers, foremen and deputy foremen. There are 250,000 women in the vast army of technicians. Thousands of women are in charge of collective farms, and thousands more are brigade leaders. Hundreds of women have been honoured with the title of Hero of Socialist Labour for their high labour productivity.

Our women take full advantage of the right to education guaranteed them by the Stalin Constitution. This can be seen from the fact that of those technicians with a university education, 43 per cent are women. The 277 women deputies to the Supreme Soviets of the Union and Autonomous Republics are a living proof of the full political equality enjoyed by the Soviet woman and her active participation in the administration of the State.

The women of our socialist society are, together with the whole Soviet people, waging an active and consistent struggle to consolidate the democratic camp and repulse the imperialist warmongers. Fighting with them are the women of the new democracies – Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Rumania and Albania where the people’s democratic system has assured them economic, political and civil rights equal with men.

Millions of women in the capitalist and colonial countries have joined the struggle for peace and democracy. Their position is very different from that of women in the Soviet Union and the new democracies. To this day, the vaunted bourgeois “democracy” of the capitalist countries still deprives women of equality. In many countries women do not even enjoy the right to vote. Women workers in the United States and Britain do not receive equal pay for equal work; and for most of them education is extremely restricted.

The position of the woman worker and the mother in the colonial countries is far worse: of the 500 million children in the colonies 480 million do not attend school. In the countries of Latin America, from 50 to 80 per cent of school-age children do not get an elementary education. In the U.S., 5 million children do not attend school. Working women in the capitalist countries know all the horrors of capitalist slavery. They are rising up in struggle for their liberation, uniting their efforts with those of all the democratic forces.

The activity and growth of the World Federation of Democratic Women demonstrate the development of the international women’s movement. During the past three years the national organizations of 16 countries have joined the Federation which today unites the women’s organizations of 56 countries, including 26 countries in Europe, 12 in Asia, 6 in Africa and 12 in America and Australia. The Federation has more than 80 million members. The working women greet March 8 with major successes in the struggle for peace and democracy.

The aggressive plans of Anglo-American ruling circles expressing the interests of American finance and industrial magnates who are trying to hurl mankind into a new world war, have aroused the indignation and opposition of millions of women throughout the world.

Naturally, in those circumstances the World Federation of Democratic Women centres its activity around the struggle for peace, drawing into this struggle millions of women who are not yet members of the Federation. In this a big role was played by the recent Second Congress of the Federation, a major event in the life and work of the democratic camp. The Congress was a powerful demonstration of the growth and organisation of the democratic women's movement.

The mass campaign for peace and democracy and against the aggressors and warmongers, the actions in support of the Soviet proposals to the United Nations to outlaw the atom bomb and reduce armaments, the campaign against the Franco regime in Spain and the terror in Greece, have enhanced the prestige of the Federation in the eyes of the supporters of peaceful cooperation between nations.

There are many facts to indicate the growing activity of the national sections of the Federation in the struggle for peace. Last November, mass actions took place throughout France in support of the proposals made by the Soviet delegation at the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly. The Italian women’s organisation sent the U.N. a petition signed by 3 million women demanding peace. The women of Czechoslovakia collected 2,500,000 signatures in support of the Soviet proposals; the women of Bulgaria 2,110,000 signatures, the women of Germany 5,000,000 signatures. Signatures were collected also in Britain, Belgium, New Zealand and Holland.

The militant women of Greece are actively supported by Federation members who are sending regular supplies of medicine, food and clothing to Greek women and children. The Federation is vigorously exposing the crimes committed by the Anglo-American imperialists against democratic Greece and the people of China. The women’s organisations in France and Holland have held protest meetings and demonstrations against the brutal reprisals of the French and Dutch Governments against the freedom-loving peoples of Viet Nam and Indonesia.

With increasing determination women are also taking part in the working class movement for better conditions. In France where they organised assistance for the striking miners, they are now fighting together with all the working people for wage increases and lower prices. In Italy women are taking an active part in the trade union struggles.

In France, Britain, Italy, Austria and other countries, women are resolutely opposing the “Marshall Plan” which is bringing ruin and enslavement to their countries, destroying their industry, freedom and sovereignty and turning them into bases for new military ventures.

Together with the women of those countries against which Anglo-American aggression is directed, the women of the U.S. and Britain are defending the cause of peace and are against war.

At the recent congress of the Federation, delegates from various countries of Europe, Asia and America, from Republican Spain, Australia, Cuba, Korea and Iran gave facts illustrating the growing resistance of the peoples to the onslaught of the monopolies and the machinations of the warmongers.

They spoke with deep gratitude of the peace-loving policy of the Soviet Government, of the great Soviet Union which heads the progressive forces of the world, which consistently and steadily exposes the warmongers, upholds the cause of peace and is strengthening the relations between peoples and states.

Expressing the will of millions of democratic women, the representative of the Union of French Women, Jeanette Vermeerch told the Congress:

“We believe in the Soviet Union – the main force of peace – for we know that where the people are in power they do not want war. We also know from experience that if the Soviet Union is attacked, it fights like a lion until victory, inspiring all who battle for the common cause of the peoples.”

Concluding her speech Vermeerch unfurled the banner sent by the women of France to the Soviet Union, bearing the inscription: “French mothers will never give their sons for a war against the Soviet Union”.

The Congress enthusiastically greeted the words of E. Cotton, Chairman of the World Federation of Democratic Women expressing the love of millions of ordinary people for the great land of Socialism.

“The fact that the countries of Central Europe feel warmly for the Soviet Union is not the result of pressure from Moscow, as reactionaries would have the peoples of the world believe,” she said. “It is the result of deep gratitude to the country which gave the blood of millions of its people for the common victory over fascism. It is an expression of the gratitude of millions of men and women to a great people who brought about the Revolution of 1917, who initiated the struggle that would really give power to the people. Those countries which the Governments of Britain and France led to Munich, received their freedom from the Soviet Union – a country where the great dream of Socialism, living in the hearts of working men and women the world over, has become a reality.”

The Manifesto adopted by the Congress declares; “Women of all countries! We bear a great responsibility to our children, to our peoples, to mankind, to history. And if all of us – and we comprise half humanity – come forward with closed ranks against the instigators of war there will be no war!”

The Manifesto calls upon women in the capitalist countries to defend their democratic gains, for without democracy there can be no peace. It calls upon the women in the colonial and dependent countries to continue the struggle against imperialism and for the national independence of their countries.

On behalf of 56 countries, the delegates to the Second International Women’s Congress declared that the 80 million members of the Federation represented by them would “fight more resolutely and more actively for peace, democracy, for the security and independence of peoples, in defence of our children and our homes! Our forces are legion. By uniting our efforts we will win the battle for peace and democracy."

On March 8, millions of women throughout the world will express their will and determination to rally more closely in the united democratic camp to carry out the great and noble tasks inscribed on its banners.

 

 

March 5, 1871

145th Birthday of

ROSA LUXEMBURG

ARABIC

CHINESE

CZECH

FINNISH

FRENCH

GERMAN

ITALIAN

 


 

The 5 Classics of Marxism-Leninism

On the International Communist Women's Movement

 

 

 

Comintern

III. International