Women and socialism: Three revolutionary case studies

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Women and socialism: Three revolutionary case studies


Photo credit: Women Organized to Resist and Defend
Photo credit: Women Organized to Resist and Defend

The people of the United States have been taught nonstop for almost 100 years that the socialist revolutions in Russia (1917), China (1949) and Cuba (1959) constituted a danger to the world. Every U.S. president has demonized each country and its leadership. As such it is understandable that most people here possess little factual knowledge about the extraordinary advances for women that quickly followed each revolution. This article will briefly examine this history.

While many advances have been achieved through hard struggle by and for women in the more progressive or social-democratic capitalist countries, what distinguishes socialist women’s movements from those in capitalist countries is the idea that complete women’s liberation cannot be won independent of the liberation for all people and the total transformation of society.

Socialist revolutions in Russia, China and Cuba saw immediate gains for women in employment opportunities, income, worker protections, health care, reproductive rights, education, child care, personal freedoms and protections from violence.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

The U.S. ruling class made opposition to revolutionary socialism and communism a cornerstone of its political outlook ever since the successful Russian Revolution led by the Bolshevik Party in November 1917 that deposed Czar Nicholas II, the wealthy aristocracy and rich landholders. This was not out of any special loyalty to the czar or any principle to oppose changes of government. What was different in Russia was that it proved that those at the bottom of society, namely the working class, could seize power from the rich, and then hold that power. The Russian Revolution provided a living example of what had previously just been theory; it provided a universal lesson for oppressed people everywhere that there was hope in revolution.

The Russian revolutionary state, led by Vladimir I. Lenin, immediately began to fulfill its promise of “Bread, Peace and Land” for the workers and peasants of this huge, largely poor and backward agricultural society, where only a few major cities had experienced industrialization.

One of the first acts of the new government was to withdraw from World War I to demonstrate opposition to pitting worker against worker, angering the United States and other allied belligerents. In 1918, pro-Czarist counterrevolutionary forces (called the White Army, as opposed to the revolutionary Red Army), launched a bitter civil war to return Russia to aristocratic control. The United States and 13 other countries invaded Russia with troops and war materials on the side of the counterrevolutionaries. It took two years of fighting until it was clear they were unable to turn the Red tide, not least because as interlopers and supporters of the hated old ruling classes, they enjoyed very little support from the masses of Russian people. The revolutionaries’ initial seizure of power was essentially quick and bloodless, but the civil war took millions of lives before the masses of Russia finally defeated the counterrevolution and consolidated their victory.

Before the revolution, women’s work for the majority of Russians was hard household and farm labor. In the home, women had no rights and were at the mercy of their men. Violence against women was rampant. As World War I approached and Russia began to industrialize, women started to work in industry, making up a third of the country’s relatively small industrial labor force. With no family benefits, women factory workers suffered a two-thirds rate of infant mortality. Women joined the Bolshevik party in large numbers, and the party called for pay equity, maternity leave, childcare at factories, and an end to wife-beating (which had been legal at the time) — and peace.

After the revolution, the early years of the Soviet Union saw dramatic gains in the lives of women, both on paper and in practice. These gains were rooted in the participation of Russian working women in the Bolshevik Party and the connection between the working class and women’s struggles. In fact, it was an International Women’s Day march of women textile workers in Petrograd, in opposition to World War I, high prices and the oppression of women workers that led to the massive strike movement that overthrew the Czar in the first stage of the Russian Revolution in February 1917.1

Soviet women gained full legal
and political equality immediately after
the revolution, including the right to
vote. Some of the more isolating and
burdensome chores that constituted
“women’s work” began to be socialized, with the establishment of communal kitchens and dining halls, laundries and day care centers. Abortion was legalized, free and on demand. In the work- place, women became eligible for the same jobs as men, in the civil service, industry, the party and the armed forces. Women workers had paid maternity leave. Homosexuality was decriminalized. The right to divorce was equalized and the concept of “illegitimacy” was abolished. Universal education was mandated and began to wipe out rampant illiteracy.2

All this happened immediately after the revolution. This was an astonishing pace of change for the legal, social and economic rights of women — and undoubtedly unparalleled in any capitalist country, where the state makes winning the most elementary reforms a bitter struggle.

The main obstacle facing the central Soviet government in this period was that the country did not have an adequate system of administration or the technological means — given the paltry state of even basic communications — to immediately bring all these changes to every city, town and village. In these initial years, the revolutionary government’s main role with respect to women’s oppression was to wipe out old reactionary laws, and create new ones on the basis of equality. This created a new legal framework for women on the ground, acting individually or in special women’s organizations, to fight and make the new laws a reality.

Alexandra Kollontai, a revolutionary communist and feminist, Commissar of Social Welfare and first woman to serve as a Soviet diplomat, staunchly backed the extensive changes in the status of women and was a leader of these special women’s organizations. Kollontai’s avant-garde views of sex and marriage were largely side- lined by men and women in her party, particularly what was called “free love.” By this, she meant sexual and romantic relationship freed from bourgeois possessiveness and property. Her view of women is expressed in this quote: “I always believed that the time inevitably must come when woman will be judged by the same moral standards applied to man. For it is not her specific feminine virtue that gives her a place of honor in human society, but the worth of the useful mission accomplished by her, the worth of her personality as human being, as citizen, as thinker, as fighter.”

Some of the gains for women were reversed in the 1930s under Stalin, when nearly all social, cultural and political trends were subordinated to the tasks of rebuilding national unity and strength, war preparations and production more generally. Women were again taught “their place” in the nuclear family. Homosexuality was re-criminalized and abortion was restricted. Marriage and divorce laws became more conservative, and the concept of illegitimacy was restored. From a socialist point of view, this path to build national unity — on the basis of alliance with the most conservative sectors of Russian society, rather than on a revolutionary basis — is not justifiable.

Soviet women still enjoyed universal literacy and education, equal political rights, high employment and socialized medicine. Then in World War II, the Soviet Union shocked the world with its deployment of 800,000 women in combat roles, from front-line infantry units to fighter pilots. More generally, the women of the Soviet Union sacrificed tremendously to defend their country and defeat the Nazi menace — a task that ultimately took 27 million Soviet lives.

Some of the women’s rights that had been lost in the 1930s were again restored during the 1950s.3 At the same time, women continued to be burdened by the double shift, insufficient social services and male supremacist attitudes.4 Without the material basis to completely reorganize the production and reproduction of society — namely to socialize all household labor, childrearing and the living arrangements that had been the basis of the “nuclear family” — gendered work, and the assumptions that came with that, could not simply be abolished.

The demise of socialism and triumph of capitalism in 1991 caused extreme hardship for the great majority of the population. Economic exploitation returned with a vengeance. Living standards and life expectancies plummeted in ways that had previously only been associated with natural disasters. For women, this took the form of lower wages, the elimination of social benefits and, for the first time in decades, unemployment. Prostitution exploded and Russian women became prime targets for international sex traffickers. Washington supported and guided the new capitalist leaders in Moscow, who privatized and looted what had previously been socially owned property, selling virtually the entire economic inventory of the country — industries, buildings, natural resources, etc. — at ridiculously cheap prices to a new and rising class of “free market” billionaire oligarchs.

The new ruling class also resuscitated the political and ideological leadership of the old Russian Orthodox Church, which in the main is highly conservative, preaching downright feudal and patriarchal values.
While women’s labor force participation is 57 percent (as of 2013), there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of people living in poverty, with most of the poor comprising families with children, the unemployed, the elderly, the disabled and women.5 The restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church, the activities of which had been significantly restricted for most of the Soviet Union’s existence because of its role in organizing counterrevolutionary activities, also negatively impacted the rights of women. Towards the end of the Soviet Union, the country’s leadership allowed the broadcast of Orthodox services on state television and today the Church hierarchy is again a core pillar of state legitimacy, promoting the subordination of women in the home and society, as well as anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

Women in the Russian Federation now suffer from “pervasive domestic violence,” which is being fought by a growing women’s movement and various organizations. At the government level, an international committee of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), of which Russia is a signatory, has criticized Russia for its failure to address domestic violence as a violation of women’s — and not just children’s — rights. Russia is expected to respond with information about new policies and practices.6

Since revolutionary leader Lenin (1870-1924) has been demonized by the United States continuously since the revolution it will be of interest to many feminists reading this book to learn that he was strongly supportive of women’s liberation. He pushed hard for all the reforms that were implemented until he died at age 54 from a series of strokes and the effects of an assassination attempt in 1918. It is difficult to think of any other national leader in history — let alone that time — that so used their power and influence to consistently champion women’s rights.

Here is a selection of just four excerpts from his writings on women:

1918:

“The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it.”

1919:

“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.”

1921:

“You cannot draw the masses into politics without drawing in the women as well. For under capitalism the female half of the human race is doubly oppressed. The working woman and the peasant woman are oppressed by capital, but over and above that, even in the most democratic of the bourgeois republics, they remain, firstly, deprived of some rights because the law does not give them equality with men; and secondly — and this is the main thing — they remain in ‘household bondage,’ they continue to be ‘household slaves,’ for they are overburdened with the drudgery of the most squalid, backbreaking and stultifying toil in the kitchen and the family household. …”

Again, in 1921:

“Women workers take an ever increasing part in the administration of public enterprises and in the administration of the state. By engaging in the work of administration women will learn quickly and they will catch up with the men. Therefore, elect more women workers, both Communist and non-Party, to the Soviet (i.e., governing council). If she is only an honest woman worker who is capable of managing work sensibly and conscientiously, it makes no difference if she is not a member of the Party — elect her to the Moscow Soviet. Let there be more women workers in the Moscow Soviet! Let the Moscow proletariat show that it is prepared to do and is doing everything for the fight to victory, for the fight against the old inequality, against the old bourgeois humiliation of women! The proletariat cannot achieve complete freedom, unless it achieves complete freedom for women.”

The People’s Republic of China

Chinese women suffered thousands of years of subordination to men, in the home, in society and in the state before the Communist Party, led by Mao Zedong, overthrew the old government in 1949 after more than 20 years of revolutionary struggle.

Abiding by the Confucian precepts of filial piety, women were expected to be obedient to men, as citizens obeyed the ruler and the young obeyed the elderly. The principles of women’s subordination were expressed in the practices of female infanticide, wife beating, the sale and purchase of women, and foot binding.

Beginning in imperial circles in the 10th century, foot binding became prevalent throughout China. Girls as young as five years old would have their toes bent under and bound with cloth until they were permanently deformed and small as a symbol of supposed feminine beauty. The deformity prevented women from walking any distance and was one of the means by which they were kept close to home and dependent on men. While formally outlawed early in the 20th century, the practice did not disappear until the communist revolution.7

Women took part in rebellions and liberation movements beginning in the 1850s, fighting for free marriage, the right to education, and to end foot binding. Even after the establishment of the republic in the early 1900s, when the last monarchical dynasty dissolved, women were still fighting many of the same patriarchal norms and exclusions. But with the founding of the Communist Party of China, the struggles for revolution and for women’s liberation were closely joined.8

The People’s Republic of China declared its commitment to the equality of women from the very beginning, as reflected in Mao’s famous words:

“Women hold up half the sky.” The PRC’s basic law sought to “abolish the feudal system which holds women in bondage. Women shall enjoy equal rights with men in political, economic, cultural, educational and social life. Freedom of marriage for men and women shall be put into effect.”

In 1955 Mao declared: “In order to build a great socialist society, it is of the utmost importance to arouse the broad masses of women to join in productive activity. Men and women must receive equal pay for equal work in production. Genuine equality between the sexes can only be realized in the process of the socialist transformation of society as a whole.”

Arranged and child marriages were abolished. Divorce was liberalized and as a consequence the divorce rate skyrocketed — as it did 30 years later in the United States. Polygamy and the use of concubines were outlawed. Women were also recruited to join the labor force. Collective nurseries and dining halls were created to accommodate working women. The pace of China’s process of women’s liberation slowed down by the end of the 1950s. As economic development rose and fell, women’s role in the economy changed, from high labor force participation when the economy could absorb higher numbers of new wage workers, to more restrictions in periods of downturn.

During the Cultural Revolution — the period of 1966 to 1976 when Mao and other leaders of the CPC called for the masses to rebel against reactionaries, purveyors of bourgeois ideas and all forms of oppression still operating in society, women’s labor force participation and educational levels skyrocketed. They were, in fact, higher than any period before or since. But with the end and defeat of the Cultural Revolution, much of that progress was reversed. China has not completed the task of achieving equal status in society between women and men.

The mass of Chinese people were poor peasants when the communists marched into Beijing. Due to poverty, a large number of Chinese women had little alternative but to turn to prostitution. It has been estimated that in 1949 some 50,000 women worked in Shanghai’s brothels alone. The communists banned prostitution, launching a successful campaign of re-education and job training for these women. Prostitution was resumed on a smaller scale in the late 1970s after the death of Mao, the purge of the left wing of the Communist Party and the decision to develop a largely capitalist economic system. The re-imposition of capitalist competition, and the elimination of the social safety net, inherently compels the creation of a permanently anxious working class, and the least secure section of that class inevitably will turn to whatever activity can guarantee their survival.

Since the Communist Party began to construct a largely capital- ist economic system called “socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the 1980s, women have experienced pay gaps with men, both within industries and between industries that predominately employ men and women. Women’s labor force participation is at 64 percent, but their status overall has reflected in large part the declining importance given to women’s issues by the Party and the government. Male dominance has strengthened, as has women’s traditional family role.9

The largest women’s organization in China remains the All- China Women’s Federation.10 Established in 1949 as a government organization, it began as a federation of regional women’s organizations that was charged with building socialism along with improving the status of women in every locale. It became a mass organization within the CPC and later declared itself an NGO, which connects with women’s movements internationally while also maintaining strong ties to the Party. Its work focuses on education, employment, and influencing government policy on women’s equality and rights.

The erosion of women’s rights has not proceeded without a struggle. For example, street actions in Beijing in 2015 have landed five Chinese feminists in jail for protesting such things as sexual harassment on public transportation, the dearth of public toilets for women and the scourge of domestic violence. While charged with disrupting public stability, they claimed that China has not lived up to the promises of the Chinese Revolution for women’s equality. The women were released on bail after 37 days.11

The Republic of Cuba

Cuba, a small underdeveloped agricultural island in the shadow of the Yankee colossus 90 miles north, had been under military and then political control by the U.S. since 1899. This ended abruptly on New Year’s Day 1959 when the revolutionary movement led by Fidel Castro ousted U.S. puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista. Within a year Uncle Sam began to impose draconian sanctions that expanded into a strict blockade, which is still in effect at the time of this writing. The U.S. government likewise launched an intense effort to subvert and overthrow the revolutionary government, using a multitude of tactics.

The condition and rights of women improved with the end of direct U.S. domination despite the hardships of the economic and trade blockade.

Cuba set the goal of full emancipation of women from the very beginning of its revolution. Calling the struggle for women’s equality the “revolution within the revolution,” Cuba has understood that women’s liberation could not be achieved overnight but must be part of an ongoing process of education, legislation and the engagement of the country’s women. Despite over a half century of imperialist trade blockade, constant political interference by the United States, and the economic hardships caused by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba has continued to move in the direction of increased rights, benefits and equality for women.

Women had to overcome decades of oppression, illiteracy and a complete lack of economic opportunity that existed before the revolution. Those who were employed outside the home worked mostly as domestic servants and agricultural laborers. Many worked as prostitutes. Others did home work, such as sewing or making cigars. The Cuban economy was not yet developed enough to provide sufficient jobs for this new workforce, so the state first focused on educating women so they would be employable in the future, when the economy could support them, and organizing them to teach others. In fact, young women and girls played leading roles in the revolution’s literacy brigades, traveling through the countryside to teach rural residents how to read and write and helping to create one of the most literate societies in the world.

The Cuban Constitution explicitly grants women equal economic, political, cultural, social and familial rights with men and prohibits discrimination based on race, skin color, sex, national origin, religious belief or any other form of discrimination. These rights are further supported by provisions in various laws, including the groundbreaking Family Code of 1975, which requires men to participate equally in domestic labor, guarantees equal rights to women and men in marriage and divorce, equal parental rights, and equal property and social rights for women in the home. Revisions in the Penal Code, legislated in 1979 and 1984, provided additional penalties for violations of sexual equality.

Cuba was the first country to sign, and the second to ratify, the United Nations’ 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1980-81. The United States has never ratified it. The National Action Plan was instituted in 1997 to implement the terms of the 4th U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing.

The Cuban women’s movement has been important in furthering women’s gains. Women took part in the revolution, including in leadership roles, from the beginning.

The Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) is the national agency responsible for the advancement of women. It was founded in 1960 by Vilma Espín, a leader of the revolution. The FMC is a non-governmental organization with close ties to the government.

The FMC has been integral in shaping the Family Code and fighting for its implementation.

According to Espín: “We had to change women’s mentality — accustomed as they were to playing a secondary role in society. Our women had endured years of discrimination. We had to show her own possibilities, her ability to do all kinds of work. We had to make her feel the urgent needs of our revolution in the construction of a new life. We had to change both woman’s image of herself and society’s image of women.”

An important early initiative to assist some of the most oppressed and exploited women in Cuba was the creation of schools for domestic servants. The first one opened in Havana in April 1961; eventually some 30,000 women were enrolled at hundreds of schools all over the country. Students studied the revolution: agrarian reform, rent reform and urban reform as well as vocational skills to prepare them for other work. By 1968 the schools were no longer needed and were closed.12

To help eliminate stereotypes, the FMC conducts trainings for public speakers and writers, and sets up counseling centers for women and families. Curriculum, textbooks and communications are constantly being revised to eliminate sexist, patriarchal or discriminatory language and values. Parenting (if not yet equal housework) is increasingly shared by fathers and mothers, and the new generation is growing up to expect these values. The federation has also established a program of sensitizing judges, lawyers, the police, and even law students to women’s experiences and perspectives. They oversee the judiciary to ensure that women’s complaints are answered at every stage of a suit or investigation.

Today, women in Cuba comprise 44 percent of the labor force. They are 66.4 percent of all technicians, mid-level professionals and higher-degree professionals. They make up 72 percent of all education workers, 67 percent of health workers, including 72 percent of doctors, and 43 percent of all science workers. These figures represent a remarkable achievement, all the more significant being accomplished by a poor nation under imperialist blockade.13

While much progress has been made in the area of pay equity, there is still work to be done to increase women’s access to the very top levels of professions and government in which men predominate and to continue to change male attitudes toward shared housework and child raising, so that women are freed from the double day.14

Political participation, and that of women, is especially high in Cuba. The government’s policy on the advancement of women, along with the work carried out by the FMC, has led to significant progress in women’s participation in government. As of 2013 women comprise 48.9 percent of the National Assembly, ranking Cuba’s legislature third in the world in women’s participation.15 About half the judges, including in the People’s Supreme Court, are women.

Infant and maternal mortality and reproductive rights are a priority. Cuba’s 2014 infant mortality rate — deaths under one year old — is 4.7 per thousand live births, on a par with Canada and the lowest in Latin America.16 This figure is one-and-one-half points better than the U.S. in the aggregate, and lower than the District of Columbia’s rate of 7.9 per thousand live births and Detroit’s 13.3 per thousand.

Abortion is free, as is all health care, and available on demand. About 77 percent of sexually active women use contraception.

Infant daycare centers are a government-mandated benefit, as are paid maternity and paternity leave.17

Crimes of violence against women, especially rape and sexual assault, are severely punished in Cuba. In official circles, violence against women had previously been seen as something that was taken care of as part of the revolution. However, after the U.N.’s 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the FMC began traveling the country to find out if there was hidden violence and to set up mechanisms for reporting and for community intervention.

The traditional imbalance in workload in the home for men and women was cited by many as the most common form of (in effect) injustice affecting women within the family, not physical violence.

They also found that in view of the strong social cohesion and close communication networks between families and neighbor- hoods, cases of violence against women could not be hidden, and when it became known community intervention would be likely.

Mariela Castro, daughter of Vilma Espín and President Raul Castro, and leader of the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), addressed this issue in a 2008 interview:

“Women everywhere, in all patriarchal societies, are the victims of violence. I call it the pathology of power, since it’s about exerting power unevenly. … We have severe laws against domestic violence and very harsh sentences, mainly for cases of sexually abused children. … The FMC is launching more and more information and education campaigns to increase public awareness, especially among women, who are the main victims. But men are also victims of their upbringing and the way manhood is portrayed all over the world, which makes them very vulnerable and likely to become victimizers. So we have a lot of work to do, because what we’re doing is not enough. … It’s more common among older people and decreasing among the younger ones. … We have made great progress, but not enough to be able to at least make a few changes.”18

Because gender-based violence cannot be eradicated by legal means alone, the country, led by CENESEX and the FMC, has launched education programs for men and boys as well as women and girls; arts and media campaigns to change the way women are represented in public images and tourist advertising; and programs to increase opportunities for women. These efforts were lauded by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a 2014 speech in Havana.19

LGBTQ rights are advancing in Cuba, reversing a long history of macho and heterosexist culture. Sexual relations between same-sex consenting adults 16 and over have been legal in Cuba since 1979, and Cuba’s 2018 constitution defines marriage as a “consensual union of two people, regardless of gender.” Havana now has an open and vibrant gay cultural scene. Educational campaigns on LGBTQ issues are currently implemented by CENESEX, and Cuba now provides citizens with gender affirmation surgery (called “gender change surgery” in Cuba) for free.

The years 2014-15 saw two significant occurrences in the direction of more rights for the LGBTQ community: Mariela Castro voted in the National Assembly against a new labor law that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation because it did not also ban discrimination based on gender identity. And on May 9, 2015, 1,000 LGBT Cubans, led by Mariela, marched in Havana in the eighth annual March against Homophobia and Transphobia, where 20 couples exchanged symbolic vows.

By law, women have pay equity with men in the labor force. Even in the 1990s, during the Special Period in Time of Peace, a period of extreme economic hardship as a result of the loss of Cuba’s primary trading partner after the collapse of the Soviet Union, great efforts were made to keep gender equality during this economic crisis. The government had long outlawed prostitution and all but eradicated the practice by 1990, defining it a manifestation of colonialism and oppression. But prostitution returned to Cuba during the period of extreme economic calamity for the whole nation, in which they lost 85 percent of their foreign trade. It took almost a decade for the country to recover.

Before the Revolution, Cuba was a center of “sex tourism” for wealthy U.S. elites, but after the revolution the practice was largely eliminated with comprehensive educational, social and employment programs for Cuba’s poor communities. During the Special Period, a dual economy arose from the combination of the extreme economic hardship and the acceptance of U.S. dollars from tourists. This further contributed to the return of prostitution, mainly in Havana. Pimping remains a criminal offense and there are no brothels or red light districts.

Cuba is a relatively poor country but has held firmly to its core socialist and humanitarian values even under the extreme conditions caused by the U.S. blockade and continual subversion, and the elimination of most of Cuba’s socialist allies.

Summary

The socialist revolutions described in this article set the foundation for profound political, economic and social gains for women, even if they were not accomplished overnight. The collapse of the international socialist movement and the restoration of capitalism in some of the formerly socialist countries has set back the struggle for women’s equality all over the planet.

The 21st century socialist movement must of course include the eradication of women’s inequality right up front. For example, the Program of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), which describes what a socialist government of poor and working people would set out to do, stipulates that “sexism and other forms of male chauvinism and oppression of women will be eliminated as an immediate task, recognizing that this goal will not be achieved automatically or by decree. It will be prohibited to advocate any form of sexism or male chauvinism.”

The Program goes on to call for a guarantee of “the right of women workers to receive the same pay, benefits and treatment as their male counterparts,” the absolute right to contraception, abortion services, high-quality pre- and post-natal health care and child care; and an end to all forms of discrimination against anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

Footnotes

1. Jane Cutter, “Women’s Oppression,” Unpublished manuscript, 2014.
2. “Women and the Russian Revolution,” http://www. bolshevik.org/1917/no7/no07wmru.html.
3. Cutter, Women’s Oppression.
4. Mary Buckley, “Women in the Soviet Union,” Feminist Review 8, no. 1 (1981): 79, http://www.palgrave-journals. com/fr/journal/v8/n1/full/fr198113a.html.
5. Cutter, Women’s Oppression.
6. Joy Ziegeweid, “Justice for Russian Women? Russia Begins
to Face Its Domestic Violence Problem,” Human Rights Brief, November 2, 2014, http://hrbrief.org/2014/11/justice-for- russian-women-russia-begins-to-face-its-domestic-violence- problem/.
7. Yuhui Li, “Women’s Movement and Change of Women’s Status in China,” Journal of International Women’s Studies 1, no. 1 (2000): 30-40, http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol1/iss1/3.
8. “Women in the Chinese Revolution, 1921-1950,” People’s March, accessed August 24, 2016, http://www.bannedthought.net/India/PeoplesMarch/PM1999-2006/ publications/women/china-1.htm.
9. Li, Women’s Movement and Change of Women’s Status in China.
10. “All-China Women’s Federation,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-China_Women%27s_Federation.
11. Andrew Jacobs, “Taking Feminist Battle to China’s Streets, and Landing in Jail,” New York Times, April 5, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/world/asia/chinese-womens- rights-activists-fall-afoul-of-officials.html.
12. Cutter, Women’s Oppression.
13. Cutter, Women’s Oppression.
14. “Gender Equality and the Role of Women in Cuban Society,”
American Association University Women, February 2011, accessed August 24, 2016, http://www.aauw.org.
15. Cutter, Women’s Oppression.
16. “The World Factbook,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html.
17. Cutter, Women’s Oppression.
18. Mariela Castro, Interview by Edmundo García, trans. Walter
Lippmann, http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs2294.html.
19. Ban Ki-moon, Opening remarks at press conference in Havana, January 28, 2014, https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/ speeches/2014-01-28/opening-remarks-press-conference-havana.

This is a chapter from Donna Goodman’s Women Fight Back: The Centuries-Long Struggle for Liberation, published through Liberation Media and available for purchase here.

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