Workers Vanguard No. 932

13 March 2009


In Celebration of International Women’s Day

(Quote of the Week)

International Women’s Day originated in March 1908 when the mainly immigrant female needle trades workers marched in New York City to demand an eight-hour day and women’s suffrage. A mass outpouring of women on International Women’s Day in Petrograd in 1917 sparked the revolutionary upheaval that culminated in the Russian October Revolution—the greatest victory ever in the struggle for women’s emancipation. In 1920, Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin underscored the fact that the fight for women’s liberation is an integral part of the fight for proletarian revolution.

The Soviet government is the first and only government in the world to have completely abolished all the old, despicable bourgeois laws which placed women in a position of inferiority to men, which placed men in a privileged position, for example, in respect of marital rights and of children. The Soviet government, the government of the working people, is the first and only government in the world to have abolished all the privileges of men in property questions, privileges which the marriage laws of all bourgeois republics, even the most democratic, still preserve.

Wherever there are landowners, capitalists and merchants, women cannot be the equal of men even before the law.

Where there are no landowners, capitalists or merchants, and where the government of the working people is building a new life without these exploiters, men and women are equal before the law.

But that is not enough.

Equality before the law is not necessarily equality in fact.

We want the working woman to be the equal of the working man not only before the law but in actual fact. For this working women must take an increasing part in the administration of socialised enterprises and in the administration of the state....

The proletariat cannot achieve complete liberty until it has won complete liberty for women.

—V.I. Lenin, “To the Working Women” (21 February 1920)