Stalin’s views towards women

In Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy, women were treated as a whole different class to men and had a specific set of ideals put upon them. But in Stalin’s Russia, there were fundamental differences in how he viewed women, as compared with Mussolini and Hitler. In fact before 1924, the Soviet government had tried to liberate women and establish gender equality as they took steps to weaken the traditional family structure which exploited women. Left-feminist Bolshevik leaders, like Alexandra Kollontai, were the frontrunners in advocating for quality, although Lenin’s views remained somewhat conservative.

Policies of the Soviet Socialist Republic toward women in the 1920s

The issue of population decline in the 1930s

A lot of these policies had been enacted by or under the influence of Lenin's beliefs. In the 1930s, Stalin reduced or removed some of these benefits for women. 

Despite the reduction and removal of some women’s rights throughout Stalin’s leadership, women benefited from several new welfare reforms, including free health services, workplace accident insurance, the expansion of kindergarten availability for mothers in the workforce, and paid holidays for a number of workers. Despite this, the availability of adequate housing remained a problem throughout the Soviet Union.

Women's role in employment

Traditionally, women were employed in agriculture, textiles and services, but their positions improved considerably under the Bolsheviks and especially under Stalin's rule. In fact, by 1939, one-third of all engineers and 79% of doctors were women.

Women were deliberately encouraged to play their part in Soviet Russia’s economic development. Hence, women were allowed to be employed in all industries and had similar, if not identical, rights to men. Also, state and workplace nurseries were provided to enable mothers to work outside of their house, something that was discouraged by the other dictators of the inter-war period.

In 1928, the number of women listed as workers or employees was around 2.8 million. By 1939, this figure had risen to just over 13 million. By 1933, women made up 33% of the industrial workforce, with an increase to 43% by 1940. 

Despite Stalin stressing the importance of family life and having children in the 1930s, women of all ages continued to work. Although there were fewer than men, there were still many female model workers in the Stakhanovite movement, and by 1936, a quarter of all female trade unionists had exceeded their production targets. 

The attitude of Stalin’s Russia to women was very different from that of the Third Reich. Nazis considered women to be inferior to men and thought they must be confined mainly to domestic concerns, whilst Communists believed in total equality between the sexes in education, employment and the legislature. Despite this, the reality was that access to higher administrative posts wasn’t equal between men and women, and patriarchy remained a widespread factor in society, with many working women retaining the role of fulfilling their household responsibilities.

Below: A Soviet World War Two Propaganda Poster Recruiting women 
"Women and girls!" "Master the male professions, replace the men who went to the front!" It features a Russian Soviet Woman with sleeves rolled up in a confident pose working in an armaments factoryImage and caption from Alamy