Comrade Ella Rule on socialism and women’s liberation

What is International Working Women’s Day and why does it matter? What has socialism got to do with women anyway?

In this video, Communists chairwoman Comrade Ella Rule discusses the origins of International Working Women’s Day, the role played by women in the Russian revolution, and the advances made by working-class women in the Soviet Union and all over the world in the aftermath of the socialist October Revolution of 1917.

How many working-class women in Britain understand that the rights they have ben able to gain have almost all come as a result of the pressure of the Soviet example? How many understand that it was Soviet practice that exploded all the old myths and excuses handed down by thousands of years of class societies as to why women should expect be kept in a subordinate position?

By abolishing classes, socialism will also do away with the material basis for the oppression of women and reinstate their private burdens to the level of social labour, recognised and carried out by the collective once more. This is why women should be mobilised for the socialist cause.

By mobilising masses of women, the socialist movement will put deep roots into the working class and ultimately ensure its success. In the words of Comrade Josef Stalin:

“Not a single great movement of the oppressed in the history of mankind has been able to do without the participation of working women.

“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.

“International Women’s Day is a token of invincibility and an augury of the great future which lies before the liberation movement of the working class.

“Working women – workers and peasants – are the greatest reserve of the working class. This reserve constitutes a good half of the population. The fate of the proletarian movement, the victory or defeat of the proletarian revolution, the victory or defeat of proletarian power depends on whether or not the reserve of women will be for or against the working class.

“That is why the first task of the proletariat and its advanced detachment, the communist party, is to engage in decisive struggle for the freeing of women workers and peasants from the influence of the bourgeoisie, for political education and the organisation of women workers and peasants beneath the banner of the proletariat.

“International Women’s Day is a means of winning the women’s labour reserves to the side of the proletariat. Working women are not only reserves, however. They can and must become – if the working class carries out a correct policy – a real army of the working class, operating against the bourgeoisie.

“The second and decisive task of the working class is to forge an army of worker and peasant women out of the women’s labour reserves to operate shoulder to shoulder with the great army of the proletariat.

“International Woman’s Day must become a means for turning worker and peasant women from a reserve of the working class into an active army in the liberation movement of the proletariat.” (1925 International Working Women’s Day address)