Russian Revolution Essays
World War I brought even greater freedom – and hardship – as thousands of women were mobilised to fill roles left vacant by men at the front and to support the war effort.
In the 1860s and 70s, a number of women joined the populist revolutionary movement that was gathering momentum in Russia.
Some of the most well-known women revolutionaries of the 19th century include Vera Zasulich, Maria Spiridonova, Vera Figner and Ekaterina Breshko-Breshkovskaia (Catherine Breshkovsky).
The rise of Social Democracy in Russia in the 1880s attracted both women workers and women from the intelligentsia.
Moreover, the charge continued, there has been too much talk of the democratic gains of a spontaneous February being liquidated by the totalitarian reaction of an engineered October, when in fact the two Revolutions are complementary rather than antagonistic) In fact, however, West and East have been moving closer together in their interpretation, to such an extent that the two basic views overlap.The former view tends to downplay the role of women in the Revolution, painting them as impulsive and politically backward.The Women’s Day demonstration is often upheld as the main (and even sole) example of women’s involvement in the Revolution.During the October Revolution, women soldiers helped to defend the Winter Palace against the Bolsheviks.Women’s battalions had been established earlier in 1917 on the authorisation of Alexander Kerensky, leader of the Provisional Government, to fight in World War I and to shame men into joining the army.Led by Poliksena Shishkina-Iavein, President of the League for Women’s Equal Rights and Russia’s first female gynecologist, and the revolutionary Vera Figner, the march was attended by up to 40,000 women.In July 1917, women over 20 were given the right to vote and hold public office.Tsarist authorities swiftly crushed the movement and hundreds of male and female activists were arrested.New non-violent and violent groups soon emerged, including the revolutionary terror organisation People’s Will (), which was responsible for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881.Many of the women were from noble or bureaucratic families and had studied abroad, where they had formed and participated in women’s study circles.Calling for social justice and political change, these women took advantage of the revolutionary mood sparked by Alexander II’s reforms to serfdom, the judiciary and education.