How far did the role of women in Russia change between 1928 and 1941 The role of women in 1928 was that of being part of the work industry; 3 million women were employed because of the demands of the Five-year plans. Though Soviet Russia was meant to be a ‘classless society’ there were still inequalities specifically between men and women. However by 1940 there were 13 million women working in the Russian industry which shows change nevertheless women spent an average of 5 times as longer on domestic responsibilities’ than men, this is an example of continuity. The domestic role for women was in in addition to working on collective farms or in Soviet industry they were expected to be responsible for household chores, such as cooking, cleaning and childcare.
Furthermore another responsibility of women was to reproduce because the trauma of industrialisation and collectivisation had led to a dramatic decline in the birth rate in the early 1930s. The communist government then introduced polices to try and reverse this trend. In addition to these wives of party officials were expected not to work, but to devote themselves to managing ‘a well-ordered communist home’. In the 1920s it was common for communist families to employ nannies however by the mid-1930’s this was frowned upon, this shows a significant change between what is the more important role to play in this time period. Women were now expected to be ideal mothers and partners. Their homes were to be examples of ‘order, warmth and feminine comfort,’ and their husbands expected their wives to be caring and attentive. They were the men there jobs consisted of being party leaders and even though they had been liberated from their domestic duties, such as chopping wood and carry water, due to mechanisation, women had none of these advantages.
Also in the 1930s Zhenotdel, a women’s branch of the Communist Central committee was closed down due to the fact that the Communist Party believed that sexuality had been achieved. Soviet authorities discouraged abortion in 1936, making it all but illegal. The law banned terminations except where they were necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. This forced women to have children they may or may not have wanted. Doctors who performed abortions on ‘underserving’ women could be sentenced to two years imprisonment. Husband who put pressure on their wives to terminate pregnancy would then face the same penalty. This was to promote the image of ‘a communist family life’ this consisted of the Stalin government reemphasising the value of marriage, they reintroduced wedding rings in 1936, and these had been banned in 1928.
Also in 1936 the administration started printing marriage certificates on high quality paper to symbolise the importance of the union. Women were now getting married more and more frequently as the 1937 census showed that 82% of women aged 30 and 39 were married. The mid-1930s is when introducing traditional gender roles and sexual attitudes were reasserted across Russia. Making women stay at home and Communist husband were to be the main income earners in the family. Another way to promote ‘a communist family life’ was to control the sex that went on. In 1934 the government reintroduced a more traditional perspective on sexual morality.
This was backed up by police action against young women who had an ‘immoral appearance’. This victimised woman as it was another rule to control their lives, in addition to this Soviet policy makers also turned against contraception. Another role of women that occurred during The ‘Great Retreat’ was the Soviet authorities recognising the important contribution made by women to Russian industry; they then increased the allocation of place in height or technical education available to women, from 30% in 1929 to 40% in 1940.
This was also a significant change as women were allowed to further their education however they were still unequal to their male counterparts as the income of men was only 60-65% of the income of men doing the same job. Another area women excelled was the agricultural economy. By 1945, 80& of collected farm workers were women. They also represented the e Stakjanovite movementt in the countryside. The most celebrate rural Stakhanovite were both female,
Courtney from Study Moose