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They received very low wages and their rights were flagrantly violated. So the
leaflets were usually addressed to the men (the two leaflets addressed to the working
women of the Laferm tobacco factory were an exception). Lenin also wrote a leaflet for
the workers of the Tornton cloth mill (in 1895) and although the women working there
were most backward, he entitled the leaflet: "To the Working Men and Women of the
Tornton Mill." This is a detail, but a very important one.
When he was in exile in 1899, Lenin corresponded with the Party organisation (the
First Party Congress was held in 1898) and mentioned the subjects he wanted to write
about in the illegal press. These included a pamphlet called "Women and the Workers'
Cause". In this pamphlet Lenin intended to describe the position of women factory
workers and peasant women and to show that the only salvation for them was through
their participation in the revolutionary movement, and that only the victory of the
working class would bring emancipation to women workers and peas-ants.
Writing in 1901 about the women who took part in the Obukhov defence,i about the
speech delivered by a woman worker Marfa Yakovleva in court, Lenin said:
"The memory of our heroic comrades murdered and tor-tured to death in prison will
increase tenfold the strength of the new fighters and will rouse thousands to rally to
their aid, and like the eighteen-year-old Marfa Yakovleva, they will openly say: 'We
stand by our brothersi' In addi-tion to reprisals by the police and the military
against participants in demonstrations, the government intends to prosecute them for
rebellion; we will retaliate by uniting our revolutionary forces and winning over to
our side all who are oppressed by the tyranny of tsarism, and by system-atically
preparing for the uprising of the whole peopleI" (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.
5, pp. 248-49.--Ed.)
Lenin made a close study of the life and labour conditions of women factory workers,
peasants and women employed in the handicrafts.
While in prison, Lenin studied the position of peasants as revealed by statistical
reports; he studied the influence of the handicrafts, the drift of the peasants to the
factories and the influence exerted by the factories on their culture and way of life.
At the same time he studied all these ques-tions from the viewpoint of women's labour.
He pointed out that the peasant's proprietorial psychology places on women a burden of
unnecessary and senseless drudgery (every peasant woman of a large family clearing
only the small part of the table she eats on, cooking a separate meal for her own
child and milking a cow to get only just enough milk for her own child).
In his book _The Development of Capitalism in Russia_ Lenin describes how cattle
farmers exploit peasant women, how the merchant-buyers exploit women lace-weavers; he
shows that large-scale industry emancipates women and1 that the work at factories
broadens their outlook, makes' them more cultured and independent and helps them to
break the shackles of patriarchal life. Lenin said that the development of large-scale
industry would create the basis for complete emancipation of women. Characteristic in
this respect is Lenin's article "A Great Technical Achievement" written in 1913.
Workers in the bourgeois countries must fight for equal rights for men and women.
In exile Lenin devoted much of his time to working out the Party programme. At that
time the Party had no programme. There was only a draft programme compiled by the
Emancipation of Labour group. Examining this programme in his article "A Draft
Programme of Our Party" and commenting on §9 of the practical part of the programme,
which demanded "the revision of our entire civil and criminal legislation, the
abolition of social-estate divisions and of punishments incompatible with the dignity
of man", Lenin wrote that it would be well to add here: "_complete equality of rights
for men and women_." ( V I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 4, p. 239.--Ed.
My italics--N. K.)
In 1903, when the Party Programme was adopted, this clause was included in it.
In 1907, in his report on the International Congress in Stuttgart Lenin noted with
satisfaction that the Congress condemned the opportunist practices of the Austrian
Social-Democrats who, while conducting a campaign for electoral rights for men, put
off the struggle for electoral rights for women to "a later date".
The Soviet government established full equality of rights for men and women.
"We in Russia no longer have the base, mean and infamous denial of rights to women or
inequality of the sexes, that disgusting survival of feudalism and medievalism which
is being renovated by the avaricious bourgeoisie ... in every other country in the
world without exception."*
In 1913, studying the forms of bourgeois democracy and exposing the hypocrisy of the
bourgeoisie, Lenin also dealt with the problem of prostitution and showed how, while
encouraging white slave traffic and raping girls in thc colonies, representatives of
the bourgeoisie at the same time hypocritically pretended to be campaigning against
Lenin returned to this question in December 1919, when he wrote that "free, civilised"
America was touting for women for bawdy houses in the vanquished countries. (-V. I.
Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 30, "Address to the Second All-Russia Congress of
Communist Organisations of the Peoples of the Peoples of the East" November 22, 1919)
In close connection with this question Lenin examined the question of child-bearing
and indignantly wrote of the appeal of some intellectuals to the workers to practise
birth control on the grounds that their children were doomed to poverty and privation.
This is a petty-bourgeois view, wrote Lenin. The workers take a different view.
Children are our future. As for poverty and so on, this can be remedied. We are
fighting against capitalism and when we win a victory we shall build a bright future
for our children ....
And finally, in 1916-17, when he could see the socialist revolution was drawing near
and was considering what the essential elements of socialist construction would be,
and how to draw the masses into this construction, he particu-larly stressed the need
to draw working women into social work, the need to enable all women to work for the
benefit of society. Eight of his articles written in this period deal with this
question, which he links up with the need to organise social life under socialism
along new lines. Lenin saw a direct connection between this and the drawing of the
most backward groups of women into the work of ruling the country, the need for
re-educating the masses in the actual process of social work.
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