Spartacist English edition No. 62
A New Translation
Communist International Theses on Work Among Women
(Women and Revolution pages)
Spartacist is proud to publish a new English translation from the Russian-language text of the “Theses on Methods and Forms of Work of the Communist Parties Among Women,” passed by the Second International Conference of Communist Women and adopted by the Third World Congress of the Third (Communist) International (CI, or Comintern) in 1921. The Theses are a key document of the early, revolutionary years of the CI under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, inspired by the world-historic overthrow of the capitalist order in Russia in the October Revolution of 1917. Drawn from hard-fought lessons, the document is a systematic exposition of how communists carry out work among women, based on decades of experience in the international revolutionary movement. This new translation by the International Communist League, based on archival research into the political origins of the document, underlines our commitment to the fight for the emancipation of women as a crucial part of our struggle for international proletarian revolution.
In 1971 and 1972 Women and Revolution printed the Comintern’s official 1921 English translation of the Theses as a tool of intervention into the radical feminist milieu that emerged out of the New Left in the United States (W&R Nos. 2 and 3, September-October 1971 and May 1972; excerpts from the Theses appear in W&R No. 22, Spring 1981). As against the feminists, who promoted the notion of separate, male-exclusionist organizations for women, we argued that the line that must be drawn is not one of sex but of class. As revolutionary Trotskyists, we sought to win over subjectively revolutionary women to the communist worldview and to the necessity of destroying the capitalist system as a prerequisite to the emancipation of women. In 1972, W&R became the journal of the Women’s Commission of the Spartacist League/U.S. Central Committee. After 25 years as a Marxist journal of women’s liberation, in 1997 Women and Revolution was incorporated into quadrilingual Spartacist and articles also appear occasionally under the W&R masthead in the ICL sectional presses.
We stand on the shoulders of our forebears of the Communist International during the period of its first four congresses, when the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat was at its height and the betrayals of Stalinism were yet to come. Since that time the working class has suffered many setbacks and defeats, not least the 1991-92 capitalist counterrevolution that destroyed the Soviet Union. Today bourgeois pundits speak of the “death of communism,” but the irreconcilable class struggle continues and with it the need to fight for a communist society in which all forms of exploitation and oppression are things of the past. Several years ago, seeking to study and learn from the crucial lessons of history, we decided to republish the Theses, understanding that the work of the Bolsheviks and the Communist International shows the way for the future generations of Marxist fighters.
In order to reconstruct an authoritative version of the document and its history for a new translation, we conducted extensive research in the Comintern and Bolshevik Party archives of the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow; the German Communist Party (KPD) and Comintern files at the Berlin Federal Archives in Berlin-Lichterfelde, Germany; the Hoover Institution library and archives at Stanford University and the libraries of the University of California at Berkeley, as well as our own Prometheus Research Library. Insofar as the surviving documentary record allows, we uncovered how, and by whom, the Theses were written. While much remains unknown, we determined that the original language of the document was Russian. Significant differences exist between the German and Russian texts: For example, the 1921 German text, the version most widely disseminated by the Comintern, does not include two sections on the primary methods of work among non-party women, delegate meetings and non-party women’s conferences, which may be a reflection of the political debates among the leading women cadres. The German text also gives the party a limited role in overseeing the work. Thus we have based our translation on the official Comintern Russian text as reprinted in 1933.
The Struggle for the Communist International
The founding congress of the Third International took place in 1919. However, Lenin launched the fight for a new international in August 1914, when most parties of the Second International betrayed the proletariat by supporting their own capitalist masters in the bloody imperialist slaughter of World War I.
This betrayal was prepared by years of political degeneration. The Second International had become infused, as Leon Trotsky said of its leading party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), with “an adaptation to parliamentarism and to the unbroken growth of the organization, the press, and the treasury” that “ended by stifling the revolutionary will of the party” (The New Course, 1923). By 1914 evolving differences had resulted in two distinct wings of the social democracy, left and right, as well as a broad centrist current represented by Karl Kautsky. In the main, the social-democratic European party leaderships saw work among women as a subordinate matter. The trailblazing work among women before 1914, including publication of Die Gleichheit (Equality), was initiated and carried out by determined and tenacious women cadres, led by prominent SPDer Clara Zetkin, in the face of the hostility or indifference of the rightist party leadership.
Under the impact of the Russian Revolution, the left wing of the Second International flocked to the Bolshevik banner, bringing in its wake some opportunist carryovers. Forging new, Leninist vanguard parties as sections of a revolutionary international required a series of political fights to break aspiring revolutionaries wholly from social-democratic practice and program and to purge the centrist waverers. As part of this struggle, in 1920 the Second CI Congress adopted the “Conditions of Admission to the Communist International,” known as the “21 Conditions,” which provided an organizational and political form for separating the revolutionaries from the reformists and centrists and carrying forward the fight against “indirect agents of the bourgeoisie within the working-class movement,” as Lenin put it (“A Letter to the German Communists,” August 1921).
The Bolshevik Fight for the Women Toilers
In 1919 the Communist International affirmed the necessity for work among women at its founding congress with a brief “Resolution on the Need to Draw Women Workers into the Struggle for Socialism.” The same year, the Russian Communist Party established a special department of the Central Committee for work among women, the Zhenotdel, and appointed Bolshevik leader Inessa Armand as its first head. From Lenin and Trotsky to Yakov Sverdlov and Nadezhda Krupskaya, virtually every leading Bolshevik was concerned with this work. The Bolsheviks recognized two leading principles: Because of women’s special oppression, their relative political backwardness and, for those who did not work, social isolation in the home, special work among women was necessary to rally them behind the Communist banner. Second, this work must take place under the leadership of the party as the work of the whole party.
Drawing on their work in publishing the journal Rabotnitsa (The Woman Worker) beginning in 1914, the Bolsheviks advocated special methods of work by which non-party women would be mobilized, educated and drawn into political work through the press and by organizing conferences, discussion and reading groups and clubs, as appropriate, for women whose social and political isolation otherwise put them beyond the party’s reach. (See “How the Bolsheviks Organized Working Women—History of the Journal Rabotnitsa,” W&R No. 4, Fall 1973.) Two key methods were delegate meetings and non-party women’s conferences, both explained in detail in the Theses. The party advocated a division of labor within all leading party bodies, from the Central Committee to local trade-union fractions, to establish commissions whose special task was to oversee the work among the masses of toiling women.
The Bolsheviks began with the Marxist premise that the oppression of women, the oldest social inequality in human history, goes back to the beginning of private property and cannot be eradicated short of the abolition of class-divided society, requiring abundant resources on an international scale. The fundamental social institution oppressing women is the family. Its function of raising the next generation must be superseded: women’s household labor and childcare will be replaced by collective institutions in a socialist society. After taking power in 1917, insofar as they were able under the conditions of extreme economic and social backwardness, civil war and imperialist invasion, the Bolsheviks mobilized toiling women as the advance guard to begin constructing collectivized childcare centers, communal kitchens and laundries to replace the individual household economy. (For a history of work among women in early Soviet society, see “The Russian Revolution and the Emancipation of Women,” Spartacist [English edition] No. 59, Spring 2006.) As written in a summary report of a speech by Inessa Armand:
“The struggle for the liberation of women is an inseparable part of the general struggle for the dictatorship of the working class and must give to the final fight millions of reserves from the most backward, most forgotten and oppressed, most humiliated layers of the working class and the toiling poor from the women’s army of labor.”
—Otchet o Pervoi mezhdunarodnoi konferentsii
kommunistok (Report on the First International
Conference of Communist Women)
(Moscow: Gosizdat, 1921) (our translation)
By early 1924, a bureaucratic caste under Stalin usurped political power from the working class in a political counterrevolution. The consolidation of the Stalinist bureaucracy over a number of years went hand in hand with the abandonment of the fight for international revolution, and of the cause of women’s emancipation. The Stalinists had so besmirched the great ideals of communism with bureaucratic distortions and lies that, in the end in 1991-92, the working class did not fight against the revolution’s final undoing and the restoration of capitalism under Boris Yeltsin.
The First International Conference
of Communist Women
The Theses on Work Among Women as voted by the Comintern came out of a year-long debate in the CI in 1920-21 between the Soviet comrades on the one hand and leading West and Central European comrades on the other. The First International Conference of Communist Women, which met in Moscow from 30 July to 2 August 1920, was initiated and organized by Inessa Armand, whose tragic death from cholera shortly thereafter deprived the CI of one of its leading cadre. Motivating draft theses submitted by Soviet comrades, Armand addressed controversies that continued to be debated throughout the following year. Her report severely criticized the Second International for being a “brake on the revolutionary proletarian movement” and “an opponent of the liberation of all toiling women”:
“Besides its general incapacity for revolutionary struggle for socialism, the leading elements of the Second International themselves were to their core suffused with philistine prejudices on the woman question, and because of that, in addition to its general betrayal of the proletariat in its fight for power, the Second International is responsible for a number of shameful betrayals of toiling women in the area of the most elementary general democratic demands. For instance concerning the question of universal women’s suffrage—the representatives of the Second International either did nothing at all (France, Belgium), or sabotaged it (Austria) or distorted it (England), etc.”
This critique encountered stubborn opposition from the West and Central European delegates, including the Austrian and German comrades, who objected to polemics in the theses and argued that the theses expressed insufficient appreciation of Clara Zetkin’s work.
A second area of debate centered on the Russian comrades’ insistence on establishing detailed, firm organizational guidelines for the work so that the Theses did not remain mere paper platitudes, as had been the case in the Second International. The third major area of difference was the applicability and adaptation of the delegate system and non-party women’s conferences to advanced capitalist countries, particularly in Europe, which remained a contentious issue for some time. Perhaps reflecting these differences, delegates from the First International Conference of Communist Women submitted two sets of draft theses to the Second CI Congress. Time pressures led the Congress to refer the debate to the CI Executive (ECCI).
After Clara Zetkin arrived in Moscow for the first time in September 1920, the draft theses were taken up at a Zhenotdel plenum. In light of Zetkin’s strong criticisms of the theses proposed by the Soviet comrades, centering on her contention that their draft did not properly address the conditions of work in the West and Central European countries, she was assigned to produce another draft with Bolshevik leaders Alexandra Kollontai and Sofia Smidovich. This resulted in the “Guidelines for the Communist Women’s Movement,” a significant step in the development of the Third Congress Theses, though marked by softness on the work of the Second International. This document was published in the CI theoretical journal, Communist International, in the Russian (No. 15, December 1920) and German (No. 15, 1921) editions. (An English version was printed as an appendix in Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples, Unite! Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress, 1920 [New York: Pathfinder Press, 1991].)
The documentary record shows that the CI Theses on Work Among Women were finalized for submission to the ECCI and the Third Congress by an editorial commission working in Russian and consisting of leading comrades of the Zhenotdel and the International Women’s Secretariat. The resulting draft, the “Preliminary Theses,” was then further amended in Russian and voted at the Congress. Amendments to the Preliminary Theses, written in Russian and marked as “corrections to the Theses by cde. Kollontai,” are filed in the Comintern archive in Moscow. These amendments are indicated by endnotes numbers 1, 2 and 6 to the Theses.
The Third World Congress
The CI Third World Congress met in Moscow from 22 June to 12 July 1921, as the revolutionary wave that swept Europe after World War I, sparked by the Russian Revolution, was receding. The lack of steeled and tested vanguard parties had proven to be a decisive factor in the defeat of proletarian revolutions in Germany, Hungary and Italy. The international Social Democracy still claimed the allegiance of substantial proletarian forces and had shown itself to be an indispensable tool of bourgeois rule. As Lenin repeatedly emphasized in the early years of the Comintern, forging vanguard parties meant much more than wielding the rhetoric of revolution: the parties must fully assimilate the Bolshevik experience. Sterile ultraleftism was also a serious problem. This point is made most powerfully in Lenin’s seminal work, “Left-Wing” Communism—An Infantile Disorder (1920), where he wrote:
“Would it not be better if the salutations addressed to the Soviets and the Bolsheviks were more frequently accompanied by a profound analysis of the reasons why the Bolsheviks have been able to build up the discipline needed by the revolutionary proletariat?”
At the 1921 Third Congress, a school for revolutionary strategy, debates hammered out resolutions on tactics, party organization, and Communist work in the trade unions and among youth and women. A key document was “Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of Their Work” (published in Prometheus Research Series No. 1, August 1988). Lenin proclaimed that the Third Congress had begun “practical, constructive work, to determine concretely, taking account of the practical experience of the communist struggle already begun, exactly what the line of further activity should be in respect of tactics and of organisation” (“A Letter to the German Communists”). The purpose of the Theses on Work Among Women was to carry forward the “practical, constructive work” of the Communist parties in their quest to win the oppressed female masses to the side of the revolution.
A central debate with the ultraleftists at the Third Congress was over the “theory of the offensive.” Often identified with Béla Kun, the leader of the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1919, the “theory of the offensive” inspired the disastrous March Action in Germany in 1921. As Trotsky wrote: “only a traitor could deny the need of a revolutionary offensive; but only a simpleton would reduce all of revolutionary strategy to an offensive” (“The School of Revolutionary Strategy,” 1921, First Five Years of the Communist International, Vol. II [New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1953]). Commenting later on the danger posed by the ultraleft minority, he wrote: “the change achieved at that time under the leadership of Lenin, in spite of the furious resistance of a considerable part of the congress—at the start, a majority—literally saved the International from the destruction and decomposition with which it was threatened if it went the way of automatic, uncritical ‘leftism’” (The New Course).
The Second International Conference
of Communist Women
The Second International Conference of Communist Women met in Moscow from 9 to 14 June 1921, immediately before the Comintern Third World Congress. There the ultraleftist current took the form of denigrating the struggle for the political equality of women (women’s suffrage) and of work in the parliamentary arena as “reformist” in principle, reflecting the broader struggle in the International.
As Trotsky emphasized in his address to the final session of the women’s conference, a central task before the Third Congress was to recognize the ebb in the class struggle and to turn the International to the task of winning the masses. While the Theses do not explicitly acknowledge this key turn, the document lays out in detail a method to find the road to the masses of toiling women. At the same time, references to the “imminence” of the proletarian revolution reflect the outlook of the prior period.
On 8 July 1921 Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai addressed the delegates of the Third Congress to motivate the adoption of the Theses on Work Among Women. According to the official proceedings of the Third Congress, two resolutions and two sets of theses were adopted by the Congress, all referred by the Second International Conference of Communist Women. We have not been able to identify any second set of theses on the woman question. Of the two resolutions adopted, one addressed the forms and methods of work among women; the second sought to strengthen the international connections between the sections and with the International Women’s Secretariat, a body subordinate to the ECCI.
Several points in the final Theses are worthy of special comment. Of particular note is the attention the Theses give to the question of the liberation of the deeply oppressed women of the East, for the first time raised as a crucial task of the revolutionary workers movement. On another point, the Theses rejects “any collaboration or agreements whatsoever with bourgeois feminists.” Today, the International Communist League does not rule out, and in fact has participated in, joint actions with bourgeois feminists to defend abortion clinics, for example.
The “sorry role” played by the mass of women in the Hungarian Revolution of 1919 refers to the mass reactionary working-class demonstrations against the short-lived Soviet government headed by Béla Kun. The counterrevolution was able to mobilize toiling women in part because of the party’s failure to address their special needs.
About the New Translation
Our goal was to provide a text of the Theses that is as complete as possible and that represents early Comintern work among women as accurately as possible. In translating the document from the Russian, we discovered difficulties with the text itself. As Witold S. Sworakowski noted in The Communist International and its Front Organizations (Stanford, California: Hoover Institution, 1965):
“The user of Comintern publications must be aware of the fact that the same item when published in Russian, English, German, French, or any other language, although seemingly identical with its counterparts, is not necessarily so in its content.... In most cases it is practically impossible to establish which item is in the original language and which is a translation. Texts of the same item, e.g., of the same speech, report, or resolution, may differ in editions in different languages.”
The 1921 English translation that we reprinted in 1971-72 includes the entirety of the Russian version, but suffers from poor English and intermittent omissions of phrases and sentences. We found other, subsequent English translations to be seriously defective.
We have used as a basis for our translation the Russian edition published in 1933 in Kommunisticheskii Internatsional v dokumentakh; Resheniia, tezisy i vozzvaniia kongressov Kominterna i plenumov IKKI 1919-1932 (The Communist International in Documents; Decisions, Theses and Declarations of Comintern Congresses and ECCI Plenums, 1919-1932) (Moscow: Partizdat, 1933) edited by Béla Kun. We compared the 1933 text to the Russian Preliminary Theses, as well as to the Russian text of the Theses distributed by the Comintern Press Bureau to the Third Congress delegates for voting. In addition we considered the German text of the Theses published in 1921 by the Comintern and distributed in Germany by Carl Hoym (Hamburg), and V.I. Lenin i Kommunisticheskii Internatsional (V.I. Lenin and the Communist International) (Moscow: Politizdat, 1970), translated from the German, edited by Kirill Kirillovich Shirinia, a scholar of Comintern history. We found that the Press Bureau Theses introduced typographical errors and omissions in retyping from the Preliminary Theses that in a few cases rendered the Russian text ambiguous or even nonsensical. Unfortunately, these errors and small omissions were carried forward in the 1933 edition of the Theses. In these obvious cases we have restored the original text from the Preliminary Theses. In two cases we included short paragraphs that appeared in the 1933 Moscow edition that do not appear in either the Preliminary or Press Bureau Theses.
Our research deepened our own understanding of the importance of the Theses. In the past, working with the historical resources we had at the time, Women and Revolution incorrectly presented the history of the “proletarian women’s movement” as if there were a direct continuity from the work among women of the Second to the Third International. For example, in “The Russian Revolution and the Emancipation of Women,” we wrote, “Before World War I the Social Democrats in Germany pioneered in building a women’s ‘transitional organization’—a special body, linked to the party through its most conscious cadre.” In fact, the idea of a special party apparatus to conduct work among women was pioneered by the Bolsheviks in their endeavor to draw the masses of toiling women to the side of the vanguard party and can be undertaken only by a programmatically hard Leninist party.
The Bolshevik Revolution was a beacon of hope to the world’s oppressed, not least to those slaves of slaves, the oppressed women workers and peasants, who at last were to take their place in history through the transformation of class society, looking toward a new, socialist world. As the report of Inessa Armand’s speech at the First International Conference of Communist Women said:
“Soviet power cannot defend the dictatorship of the proletariat against the attacks of the imperialists without the recruitment of the broadest masses of women workers and peasants to participation in the civil war, without the education and involvement, to speak in comrade Lenin’s words, of the last woman cook in the task of governing the state.”
—“Report of First International Conference
of Communist Women” (our translation)
Theses on Methods and Forms of Work of the Communist Parties Among Women
1. The Third Congress of the Communist International, together with the Second International Conference of Communist Women, reaffirms once again the decision of the First and Second Congresses on the necessity of strengthening the work of all the Communist Parties of the West and the East among the female proletariat, educating the broad masses of women workers in the spirit of communism and drawing them into the struggle for Soviet power or for constructing the Soviet toilers republic.
Throughout the entire world the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat has been squarely posed before the working class, and thus before women workers as well.
The capitalist economic system has reached a dead end: there is no room for the further development of the productive forces within the framework of capitalism. The universal immiseration of working people, the inability of the bourgeoisie to revive production, burgeoning speculation, decaying production, unemployment, fluctuating prices out of step with wages—all lead to the inevitable intensification of the class struggle in all countries. In this struggle the question will be decided: by whom and under what system will production be led, directed and organized—by a handful of capitalists or by the working class on a communist basis.
The new, rising proletarian class, in accordance with the laws of economic development, must take the productive apparatus into its own hands and create new economic forms. Only this will create the necessary impetus for the maximum development of the productive forces, hitherto held back by the anarchy of capitalist production.
As long as power is in the hands of the bourgeois class, the proletariat will be powerless to revive production. As long as power is in the hands of the bourgeoisie, no reforms, no measures carried out by democratic or socialist governments of the bourgeois countries can save the situation and alleviate the heavy, unbearable torments suffered by female and male workers—torments born in the collapse of the capitalist economic system. Only the seizure of power by the proletariat will make it possible for the class of producers to take hold of the means of production and thus enable them to direct economic development in the interests of the working people.
To hasten the inevitable hour of the decisive clash of the proletariat with the moribund bourgeois world, the working class must uphold the firm and resolute tactics outlined by the Third International. The dictatorship of the proletariat—the basic immediate goal—determines the methods of work and the battle line for the proletariat of both sexes.
The struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat is imminent for the proletariat of all capitalist states and the construction of communism is the immediate task of those countries where the dictatorship is in the hands of the workers. Therefore, the Third Congress of the Communist International affirms that both the conquest of power by the proletariat and the achievement of communism in a country which has already thrown off the yoke of the bourgeoisie cannot be realized without the active participation of the mass of the female proletariat and semi-proletariat.
On the other hand, the Congress once again directs the attention of all women to the fact that without the support of the Communist Parties in all the tasks and undertakings promoting the liberation and emancipation of women, a woman’s full personal rights and her actual emancipation are impossible to achieve in real life.
2. At the same rate as the worldwide economic devastation becomes ever more acute and unbearable for all urban and rural poor, the interests of the working class, especially in the present period, require bringing women into the organized ranks of the proletariat that is fighting for communism.
As a result, the question of social revolution is inescapably posed before the working class of the bourgeois-capitalist countries, just as the task of rebuilding the economy on new communist foundations arises before the working people of Soviet Russia. The more actively, consciously and resolutely women take part in both these tasks, the more easily they will be accomplished.
Wherever the question of the conquest of power is squarely posed, the Communist Parties must take into account the great danger posed to the revolution by the inert masses of women workers, housewives, office workers and peasant women who are not freed from the influence of the bourgeois worldview, the church and superstitions, and who are not in one way or another connected to the great liberating movement for communism. Unless the masses of women in the West and the East are recruited to the movement, they inevitably become a bulwark for the bourgeoisie, a target for counterrevolutionary propaganda. The experience of the Hungarian Revolution, where the lack of consciousness of the mass of women played such a sorry role, should serve in this sense as a warning to the proletarians of all other countries setting out on the path of social revolution.
Conversely, the policies pursued by the Soviet Republic showed in concrete experience the importance of the participation of women workers and peasants—in the Civil War, in the defense of the republic and in all spheres of Soviet construction. The facts prove the importance of the role already played by women workers and peasants in the Soviet Republic in organizing defense, strengthening the rear, in the struggle against desertion, and in the battle against every sort of counterrevolution, sabotage, etc. The experience of the toilers republic must be learned and put to use in other countries.
From this derives the task of each Communist Party to spread its influence to the broadest layers of the female population of its country by means of organizing special, internal party apparatuses and establishing special methods of approaching women to free them from the influence of the bourgeois worldview or the influence of the compromiser parties, and to develop among them resolute fighters for communism and hence fighters for the all-sided education of womankind.
3. By placing before the Communist Parties of the West and the East the immediate task of strengthening the work of the party among the female proletariat, the Third Congress of the Communist International at the same time points out to the women workers of the whole world that their liberation from age-old injustice, enslavement and inequality can be realized only through the victory of communism. What communism gives to women can by no means be provided by the bourgeois women’s movement. As long as the rule of capital and private property exists in the capitalist countries, the liberation of woman from dependency on her husband can go no further than the right to dispose of her own property, her own earnings, and the right to decide equally with her husband the fate of their children.
The most decisive efforts of the feminists—the extension of women’s suffrage under the rule of bourgeois parliamentarism—do not solve the problem of the actual equality of women, especially of the non-propertied classes. This can be seen in the experience of women workers in all capitalist countries where in recent years the bourgeoisie has granted the formal equality of the sexes. Suffrage does not eliminate the primary cause of women’s enslavement in the family and society. Given the economic dependence of the proletarian woman on her capitalist master and her breadwinner husband, and in the absence of broad protection in making provision for mother and child and socialized education and care of children, replacing indissoluble marriage with civil marriage in capitalist states does not make the woman equal in marital relations and does not provide a key to resolving the problem of the relation between the sexes.
Not formal, superficial, but actual equality of women can be realized only under communism when women, together with all members of the laboring class, become the co-owners of the means of production and distribution, participate in managing them and bear their work responsibilities on the same basis as all members of toiling society. In other words, it is possible only by overthrowing the system of the exploitation of man’s labor by man under capitalist production and by organizing the communist form of economy.
Only communism will create the conditions under which the natural function of women—motherhood—will not come into conflict with their social responsibilities and interfere with their creative work for the benefit of the collective. On the contrary, communism will enable the development of a well-rounded, healthy and harmonious individual, closely and inseparably bonded with the tasks and life of the toilers collective. Communism must be the goal of all women who fight for the liberation of women and the recognition of all their rights.
However, communism is also the ultimate goal of the entire proletariat. Therefore, the struggle of working women for this common goal must, in the interest of both sides, be waged jointly and inseparably.
4. The Third Congress of the Communist International affirms the fundamental proposition of revolutionary Marxism that there is no “special woman question,” no special women’s movement. Any kind of unity of working women with bourgeois feminism, just like the support by women workers of the halfway or openly treacherous tactics of the social compromisers—the opportunists—leads to the weakening of the proletariat’s strength. This postpones the social revolution and the advent of communism—and thus the great hour of the all-around emancipation of women.
Communism is achieved not through the united efforts of women of different classes, but through the united struggle of all the exploited.
In their own interests the masses of proletarian women are duty-bound to support the revolutionary tactics of the Communist Party and to participate most actively and directly in mass actions and in all aspects and forms of the civil war that arise on a national and international scale.
5. The struggle of women against their double oppression (by capitalism and by domestic family subservience) in the highest stage of its development must take on an international character, transforming itself into the fight of the proletariat of both sexes for the dictatorship and for the Soviet system under the banner of the Third International.
6. Warning women workers against any collaboration or agreements whatsoever with bourgeois feminists, the Third Congress of the Communist International also points out to women workers of all countries that any illusions in the idea that proletarian women can, without damage to the cause of women’s liberation, support the Second International or opportunistically inclined elements close to it will inflict colossal harm to the liberation struggle of the proletariat. Women must firmly remember: all the roots of women’s enslavement grow out of the bourgeois system. In order to put an end to the enslavement of women, it is necessary to pass over to the new communist mode of society.
Support by women workers to the groups and parties of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals puts a brake on the social revolution, delaying the coming of the new order. The more decisively and irreversibly the broad masses of women turn away from the Second and the Two-and-a-Half Internationals, the more certain will be the victory of the social revolution. It is the duty of women Communists to condemn all who fear the revolutionary tactics of the Communist International, and to stand firmly for the expulsion of the latter from the exclusive ranks of the Communist International.
Women must remember that the Second International did not create and did not attempt to create a body whose task would have been to bring about a struggle for the all-sided emancipation of women. The beginning of the international association of women socialists was outside the framework of the Second International on the initiative of women workers themselves. Women socialists who carried out special work among women had neither a place, nor representation, nor a decisive vote in the Second International.
Already at its First Congress in 1919 the Third International clearly formulated its attitude on the question of recruiting women to the struggle for the dictatorship. For this purpose a conference of Communist women was convened by the First Congress. In 1920 the International Secretariat for Work Among Women was founded, with permanent representation on the Executive Committee of the Communist International. It is the duty of conscious women workers of all countries to irrevocably break with the Second and the Two-and-a-Half Internationals and firmly support the revolutionary line of the Communist International.
7. Support to the Communist International by women workers, peasants and office workers must be demonstrated by their joining the ranks of the Communist Party of their respective country. In those countries and parties in which the struggle between the Second and the Third International has not yet been consummated, it is the duty of women workers to support with all their strength that party or group that stands for the Communist International and to wage a ruthless struggle against all vacillating or openly traitorous elements, irrespective of their authority. Conscious proletarian women who are striving for their liberation cannot remain in parties that stand outside the Communist International.
Whoever opposes the Third International is an enemy of the emancipation of women.
The place of conscious women workers of the West and East is under the banner of the Communist International—in the ranks of the Communist Parties of their countries. Any vacillation on the part of women workers, any fear of breaking with traditional compromiser parties, any fear of breaking with recognized authority figures—all these have a ruinous impact on the successes of the great struggle of the proletariat that is taking on the character of an open and merciless civil war on an international scale.
Methods and Forms of Work Among Women
Proceeding from the aforementioned propositions, the Third Congress of the Communist International establishes that the Communist Parties of all countries must conduct their work among proletarian women on the following bases:
1) The inclusion of women as party members with equal rights and responsibilities in all fighting class organizations—the Party, trade unions, cooperatives, factory shop steward committees, etc.
2) The recognition of the importance of involving women in all areas of active struggle by the proletariat (including the military self-defense of the proletariat), the construction of the new foundations of society and the organization of production and everyday life on a communist basis.
3) The recognition of the function of motherhood as a social function and the implementation or safeguarding of measures that will defend and protect womankind as the bearer of the human race.
While most decisively opposing any segregated, separate women’s associations within the Party, the trade unions or special women’s organizations, the Third Congress of the Communist International recognizes the necessity of adopting special methods of work among women and affirms the effectiveness of forming special apparatuses within all Communist Parties for carrying out this work. In light of the above, the Congress draws attention to the following:
a) The everyday enslavement of women, not only in bourgeois-capitalist countries, but also in countries that are going through the transition from capitalism to communism under the Soviet system;
b) The great passivity and political backwardness of the mass of women, explained by their age-old exclusion from social life and by their age-old enslavement in the family;
c) The special functions that nature itself has placed upon women—childbearing—and the resulting special needs of women for greater protection of their strength and health in the interest of the whole collective.
Therefore, the Third Congress of the Communist International recognizes the importance of creating special bodies for carrying out work among women. Such Party apparatuses must be Departments or Commissions organized in all Party Committees, from the CC [Central Committee] of the Party to the City District or County Party Committees. This decision is binding on all Parties belonging to the Communist International.
The Third Congress of the Communist International decrees that the tasks the Communist Parties carry out through the Departments will include:
1) developing the masses of women in the spirit of communism, drawing them into the ranks of the Party;
2) waging a struggle against anti-woman prejudices among the mass of the male proletariat, strengthening the consciousness among male and female proletarians of their common interests;
3) steeling the will of women workers by involving them in all forms and aspects of civil war, awakening their activism through participation in the struggle against capitalist exploitation in bourgeois countries using mass mobilizations against high prices, housing shortages, unemployment and other revolutionary issues of civil war; by the participation of women workers in communist construction of society and of everyday life in the Soviet Republics;
4) placing tasks on the Party’s agenda and introducing into legislation questions that serve to directly liberate women, asserting their equal rights and defending their interests as the bearer of the human race;
5) waging a systematic struggle against the power of tradition, bourgeois habits and religion, thus clearing the way for healthier and more harmonious relations between the sexes, and providing for the physical and moral vitality of toiling humanity.
All work of the Departments and Commissions must be carried out under the direct leadership and responsibility of Party Committees. At the head of a Commission or Department must stand a member of the Committee. To the extent possible, comrade-Communists must also enter into the Commission or Department.
All the measures and tasks before Commissions or Departments of women workers must be carried out by them not independently, but rather, in Soviet countries, through respective economic or political bodies (Departments of the Soviet, Commissions, trade unions), and in capitalist countries, with the support of corresponding bodies of the proletariat: parties, unions, soviets, etc.
Wherever Communist Parties exist underground or semi-legally they are required to create an underground apparatus for work among women. This apparatus must be subordinated and adapted to the Party-wide underground apparatus. As with legal, so with underground organizations, all Local, Regional and Central Committees must include a female comrade who is responsible for directing underground propaganda work among women. The main bases for the Communist Parties’ work among women must in the current period be the trade and industrial unions and cooperatives, both in the countries where the struggle for the overthrow of the yoke of capital is still being waged and in the toilers Soviet Republics.
Work among women must be imbued with a spirit of the common purpose of the party movement, of a united organization, of independent initiative and striving for the rapid and full emancipation of women by the Party, independent of the Commissions or Sections. Therefore, the goal should be not parallelism in work, but assisting the work of the Party through the self-development and initiatives of working women.
The Work of the Party Among Women
in Soviet Countries
The task of the Departments in a toilers Soviet Republic is to educate the mass of women in the spirit of communism, recruiting them into the ranks of the Communist Party, to awaken and develop activism and initiative among women, drawing them into the building of communism and developing among them stalwart women defenders of the Communist International.
The Departments must attract women to all areas of Soviet construction, from matters of defense to highly complex economic plans of the republic.
In the Soviet Republic the Departments must see to the fulfillment of the resolutions of the Eighth Congress of Soviets on drawing women workers and peasants into the building and organizing of the economy and on their participation in all the bodies that are leading, directing, controlling and organizing production. The Women’s Departments, via their representatives and Party bodies, must participate in drafting new statutes and must bring their influence to bear on changing those laws that require alteration for the sake of women’s actual emancipation. The Departments must take special initiative in developing laws protecting the labor of women and minors.
The Departments must involve as many women workers and peasants as possible in the election campaign for the Soviets and must also make it their concern that women workers or peasants are elected as members of the Soviets and Executive Committees.
The Departments must promote the success of all political or economic campaigns carried out by the Party.
It is the task of the Departments to promote the advance of women’s skilled labor by increasing the technical education of women and by taking action so that women peasants and workers have access to the necessary educational facilities.
The Departments must see to both the entrance of women into the Commissions for the Protection of Labor in enterprises and the strengthening of the activity of the Commissions for the Protection of Mother and Infant.
The Departments must promote the development of the entire network of social institutions such as: communal dining halls, laundries, repair shops, social service institutions, communal housing, etc., which, by reshaping everyday life on a new communist basis, will ease the burden on women during the transitional period, assisting in their emancipation in everyday life and transforming the household and family slave into a free participant, a great master of society and a creator of new modes of living.
The Departments must promote the education of women trade-union members in the spirit of communism with the aid of organizations for work among women set up by the Communist fractions in the trade unions.
The Departments must see to it that women workers duly attend the plant-wide and factory-wide assemblies of delegates.
The Departments are obliged to carry out systematic allocation of women delegate-trainees for Soviet, economic and trade-union work.
In their work, the Zhenotdels [Women’s Departments] of the Party must above all else sink firm roots among women workers, further developing their already existing work among housewives, office workers and poor peasants.
For the purpose of establishing a firm link of the Party with the masses, of extending the influence of the Party over the non-Party masses and of implementing the method of educating the women masses in the spirit of communism by way of initiative and participation in practical work, the Departments convene and organize delegate meetings of women workers.
Delegate meetings are the best means of educating women workers and peasants and of extending the influence of the Party over the non-Party and backward masses of women workers and peasants.
Delegate meetings are formed from factory and plant representatives of a given City District or City, a given Rural District [Volost] (in the case of delegate meetings of women peasants) or by neighborhood (in the case of delegate elections among housewives). In Soviet Russia the women delegates are drawn into all manner of political and economic campaigns, are sent into various Commissions in enterprises, are brought into positions of control in Soviet institutions and, finally, into regular work in the Departments of Soviets as trainees for two months (law of 1921).
Delegates should be elected in shop-wide meetings, in rallies of housewives or office workers, according to a norm established by the Party. The Departments must carry out propagandistic-agitational work among the women delegates, for which purpose the Departments convene meetings at least twice a month. The women delegates are obliged to report to their shops or to neighborhood meetings about their activities. The women delegates are elected for three months.
The second form of agitation among the female masses is to call non-Party conferences of women workers and peasants. The women representatives at these conferences are elected at meetings of women workers by enterprise and women peasants by village.
The Departments of women workers are assigned to convene and lead these conferences.
In order to consolidate the experience that women workers gain in the practical work of the Party or in its mobilizations, the Departments or Commissions carry out systematic oral and printed propaganda. The Departments hold rallies, discussions, meetings of women workers by enterprise, of housewives by neighborhood, and lead delegate meetings and carry out door-to-door agitation.
Programs for work among women must be established in Soviet schools, both in the center and regions, for the training of activist women cadre and for the deepening of their communist consciousness.
In Capitalist Countries
The immediate tasks of the Commission for work among women are dictated by the objective situation. On the one hand, there are the collapse of the world economy; the monstrous growth of unemployment, especially reflected in the slackening demand for women’s labor which feeds the growth of prostitution; rising prices; the acute housing shortage; and the threat of new imperialist wars. On the other hand, there are unceasing economic strikes by workers in all countries and repeated attempts at civil war on a world scale—all this is a prologue to world social revolution.
The Commissions of women workers are obliged to put forward the battle tasks of the proletariat; they must carry out the struggle for the unabridged slogans of the Communist Party and must attract women into participating in the revolutionary mobilizations of Communists against the bourgeoisie and the social compromisers.
In carrying on a struggle against all forms of segregating or weakening women workers, the Commissions must see to it that women are not only included as members with equal rights and responsibilities in the Party, the trade unions and other class organizations, but also that women workers attain positions on the leading bodies of Parties, unions and cooperatives on an equal basis with male workers.
The Commissions must act so that the widest layers of women proletarians and peasants exercise their rights to support the Communist Party in elections to parliament and all public institutions. At the same time, the Commissions must explain the limited character of these rights as a means of weakening capitalist exploitation and emancipating women, counterposing the Soviet system to parliamentarism.
The Commissions must also ensure that women workers, office workers and peasants take a most active part in the election of revolutionary, economic and political Soviets of workers deputies, drawing in housewives so as to awaken their political activity and propagating the idea of Soviets among peasant women. A special task of the Commissions must be the realization of the principle of equal pay for equal work. It is the task of the Commissions to initiate a campaign, drawing in men and women workers, for free and universally accessible vocational education, enabling women workers to attain high-level skills.
The Commissions must see to it that Communist women participate in municipal and legislative bodies wherever women have access on the basis of their electoral rights, and conduct within them the revolutionary tactics of their party. But, in participating in the legislative, municipal and other bodies of bourgeois states, women Communists must resolutely defend the Party’s basic principles and tactics, not concerning themselves as much with the practical realization of reform within the framework of the bourgeois order as with using each living, burning question or demand of women workers as a revolutionary slogan, so as to attract them to active struggle for the realization of those demands through the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Commissions must be in close contact with the parliamentary and municipal fractions and jointly discuss all questions concerning women.
The Commissions must explain to women the backwardness and inefficiency of the individual household system and the defects of the bourgeois system of child raising, by focusing the attention of women workers on questions put forward or supported by the Party concerning the practical improvement of the everyday life of the working class.
The Commissions must promote the recruitment of women workers, members of trade unions, to the Communist Parties, a task for which the trade-union fractions assign women organizers who work among women under the leadership of the Party or local Departments of the Party.
Women’s Agitation Commissions must likewise direct their propaganda so that women workers in cooperatives strive to spread the ideas of communism and take on a leading role in the cooperatives, since these organizations, as distribution bodies, have an enormous role to play during and after the revolution.
All the work of the Commissions must have as a goal the development of the revolutionary activism of the masses, thus hastening the social revolution.
In the Economically Backward
Countries (the East)
In countries with weakly developed industry, the Communist Parties, together with the Departments of women workers, must win the recognition of the equal rights and responsibilities of women in the Party, the unions and other organizations of the toiling class.
The Departments or Commissions, together with the Party, must wage a struggle against all prejudices, morals and religious customs oppressive to women, conducting this agitation likewise among men.
The Communist Parties and their Departments or Commissions must implement the principle of women’s equality in matters of rearing children, family relations and public life.
The Departments must seek support for their work first of all among the broad layers of women workers exploited by capital in the home industries (handicrafts) and women workers on rice, cotton and other plantations. In Soviet countries, the Departments must promote the establishment of artisan workshops. In countries of the bourgeois order, work must be centered on the organization of women plantation workers, enrolling them in common unions with male workers.
Raising the general cultural level of the populace is the best way to fight the stagnation of the country and the religious prejudices among the peoples of the East who live in countries of the Soviet order. The Departments must facilitate the development of schools for adults, which must be freely accessible to women. In bourgeois countries the Commissions must directly wage a struggle against the bourgeois influence of the schools.
Wherever possible, the Departments or Commissions must carry out agitation in the home. The Departments must organize clubs of women workers, drawing in the most backward women elements. The clubs must be centers of cultural enlightenment—institutions that demonstrate through experience what women can achieve through their own initiative for their emancipation (the organization of nurseries, kindergartens, literacy schools under the auspices of the clubs, etc.).
Among nomadic peoples the Departments will organize mobile clubs.
In countries of the Soviet order, the Departments must assist the respective Soviet bodies in the work of transition from precapitalist forms of economy to socialized production, convincing women workers through their own experience that individual housekeeping and the old form of the family hinder their emancipation, whereas socialized labor liberates them.
Among the peoples of the East living in Soviet Russia, the Departments must see to it that Soviet legislation, which recognizes equal rights of women with men and which protects the interests of women, is being implemented in reality. Toward this end, the Departments must promote the recruitment of women as judges and jurors in the people’s courts.
The Departments must also involve women in elections to the Soviets and make it their concern that women workers and peasants are elected as members of the Soviets and their Executive Committees. Work among the proletarian women of the East must be carried out on a class basis. It is the task of the Departments to expose the powerlessness of feminists to resolve the question of women’s emancipation. In the Soviet countries of the East, women in the intelligentsia (e.g., teachers) who sympathize with Communism should be used to advance enlightenment. While avoiding tactless and crude attacks on religious beliefs or national traditions, the Departments or Commissions working among women of the East must definitely struggle against nationalism and the hold of religion over women’s minds.
All organizing of women workers in the East, just as in the West, must be built not along lines of defending national interests but on the plane of uniting the international proletariat of both sexes around unified class tasks.
Note: In view of the importance and urgency of strengthening the work among the women of the East and the newness of the task posed, the Theses are supplemented with special instructions, applying the basic methods of the work of the Communist Parties among women in accordance with the particulars of everyday life of the peoples of the East.
Methods of Agitation and Propaganda
In order to fulfill the main tasks of the Departments—the communist education of the female masses of the proletariat and the strengthening of these fighter-cadres for communism—it is necessary for all Communist Parties of the West and East to master the basic principle of work among women, namely: “agitation and propaganda by deed.”
Agitation by deed means above all the ability to awaken women workers to independent activity, to shatter their doubts about their own power and, by involving them in practical work in the spheres of construction or struggle, to teach them by practical experience to recognize that every conquest of the Communist Party, every action directed against exploitation by capital constitutes a step toward improving the condition of women. From practice and action to the recognition of the ideals of communism and its theoretical principles and, conversely, from theory to practice and action—such is the method by which Communist Parties and their Departments of women workers must approach the masses of women workers.
In order that the Departments be not merely bodies of propaganda of the word, but bodies of action, they must rely upon Communist cells in the enterprises and workshops, seeing to it that every Communist cell designates one organizer for work among women of the given enterprise.
The Departments must be connected to the trade unions through their representatives or organizers who are designated by the [Party] trade-union fractions and who carry out their work under the leadership of the Departments.
In the Soviet countries propaganda of the ideas of communism by deed means attracting women workers, peasants, housewives and office workers into all fields of Soviet construction, beginning with the army and militia and ending with all spheres of women’s emancipation: the organization of socialized dining, networks of institutions for socialized child rearing, the protection of motherhood, etc. Particularly important at the present moment is attracting women workers to all aspects of the work of rebuilding the national economy.
Propaganda by deed in capitalist countries signifies above all recruiting women workers to participate in strikes, demonstrations and all aspects of struggle that steel and strengthen revolutionary will and consciousness; drawing women workers into all aspects of Party work, using women for underground work (especially in the field of communication services), the Party organization of subbotniks or voskresniks [voluntary Saturday or Sunday work sessions], at which women workers sympathetic to Communism, workers’ wives and women office workers serve the Party with voluntary labor, organizing the mending and sewing of children’s clothes, etc.
The aims of propaganda by deed are also served by the principle of attracting women to all political, economic or cultural enlightenment campaigns conducted by the Communist Parties.
The Departments of women workers of the Communist Parties must spread their activities and influence to the broadest circles of proletarian women enslaved and oppressed in the capitalist countries. In the Soviet countries they carry out their work among the masses of proletarian and semi-proletarian women who are fettered by everyday conditions and prejudices.
The Commissions must carry out their work among women workers, housewives, peasant women and women engaged in intellectual labor.
For the purpose of propaganda and agitation, the Commissions organize mass demonstrations, rallies by particular enterprise, rallies of women workers and office workers, either by workplace or by city district, general women’s demonstrations, rallies of housewives, etc.
The Commissions see to it that the fractions of the Communist Parties in the trade unions, cooperatives and factory and plant councils designate an organizer for work among women. In other words, they would have representatives in all bodies dedicated to promoting the development of the revolutionary activity of the proletariat in capitalist countries for the purpose of seizing power. In the Soviet countries they assist in the election of women workers and peasants to all Soviet bodies for leadership, management and oversight, serving as a bulwark of the proletarian dictatorship and enabling the realization of communism.
The Commissions must send responsible women-worker Communists to work as shopfloor or office workers in enterprises employing large numbers of women; the Commissions must send such women workers to major proletarian districts and centers, as is successfully practiced in Soviet Russia.
The Commissions for work among women must make the utmost use of the successful experience of the Zhenotdel of the RCP [Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)] for the purpose of organizing delegate meetings and non-Party conferences of women workers and peasants. They must organize meetings of women workers and office workers from various fields, peasant women and housewives, in which specific demands and needs are raised for discussion and Commissions are elected. These Commissions must stay in close contact with their women electors and with the Commissions for work among women. The Commissions must send their agitators to participate in discussions at meetings of parties that are hostile to Communism. Propaganda and agitation through demonstrations and similar rallies must be complemented by systematically organized door-to-door agitation. Every woman Communist commissioned for this work must have no more than ten apartments in her assigned area and must pay visits to them for the purpose of agitation among housewives not less than once a week, visiting more often when the Communist Party conducts a campaign or announces a mobilization.
In order to carry out their agitational, organizational and educational work by way of the printed word, the Commissions are delegated to:
1) facilitate the publication of a central organ for work among women in every country;
2) ensure the publication in the Party press of “Women Workers Pages” or special supplements, as well as the inclusion of articles on questions of work among women in the general Party and trade-union press; the Commissions must concern themselves with the appointment of editors of the aforementioned publications and train other women contributors from among women laborers and women Party activists.
The Commissions must see to the publication of popular agitational literature, and along with it, educational literature in the form of leaflets and pamphlets, and provide for distribution.
The Commissions must promote the optimal use of all political educational facilities of the Party by women Communists.
The Commissions must concern themselves with deepening the class consciousness and strengthening the will of the young Communist women by drawing them into Party-wide education courses and discussion evenings and, only where it proves necessary and appropriate, organizing special evenings for reading or discussion or a series of lectures especially for women workers.
For the purpose of strengthening the spirit of camaraderie between women and men workers, it is not desirable to establish separate courses and schools for women Communists. However, all Party-wide schools must conduct a course on methods of work among women. The Departments must have the right to delegate a given number of their women representatives to Party-wide courses.
The Structure of the Departments
Departments and Commissions for work among women are established under every local Party Committee, under Region [Okrug] or Province [Oblast] Party Committees and under the Party CC. The number of members chosen for these Commissions is set in accordance with the needs of each country. Likewise, the number of paid members of these Commissions is determined by the Party in keeping with its means.
The head of a Women’s Agitational Department or the Chairman of a Commission must at the same time also be a member of the local Party Committee. Where this is not the case, the head of the Department attends all sessions of the Committee with the right to a decisive vote on all questions of the Zhenotdel and a consultative vote on all other questions.
Along with the above-enumerated general tasks, the following additional functions are included in the duties of the Regional and Provincial [Gubernia] Departments or Commissions:
• supporting communications between the Departments of the given area and with the Party Organization;
• compiling data on the activity of the Departments or Commissions of their given Region or Province;
• enabling the exchange of materials between local Departments;
• providing their Region or Province with literature;
• allocating agitational forces throughout their Regions or Provinces;
• mobilizing Party forces for work among women;
• convening Regional or Provincial conferences of women Communist representatives of the Departments at least twice a year, with a delegation of one or two from each Department; and
• conducting non-Party conferences of women workers, peasants and housewives of the given Region or Province.
Members of the Department or Commission collectives are confirmed by the County or Province [Party] Committees upon the recommendation of the head of the Department. This head is elected, just as are other members of the County and Provincial Party Committees, at County or Provincial Party Conferences.
Members of the Local, Regional and Provincial Departments or Commissions are elected at a City, County, Regional or Provincial Conference, or are appointed by their corresponding Departments, in connection with the Party Committees.
If the head of the Zhenotdel is not a member of the Regional or Provincial Party Committee, then the Zhenotdel head has the right to attend all sessions of the Party Committee with a decisive vote on questions of the Department and a consultative vote on all other questions.
Apart from all the functions listed above for the Regional and Provincial Departments, the P.O. [Party Organization] fulfills the following functions as well:
• instructing the Women’s Agitational Department in questions of Party work;
• supervising the work of the Departments;
• in conjunction with respective Party bodies, allocating forces for carrying out work among women;
• monitoring the conditions and development of women’s labor, keeping in mind changes in the legal and economic position of women;
• participating, via representatives or mandated deputies, in special Commissions that deal with questions of betterment or change in the everyday life of the working class, the protection of labor, providing for the needs of childhood and so forth;
• publishing “Central Women’s Pages”;
• editing a periodical journal for women workers;
• convening an assembly of women representatives from all Regional or Provincial Departments not less than once per year;
• organizing countrywide agitational tours by instructors of work among women;
• supervising the enlistment of women workers and the involvement of all Departments, in all manner of Party political and economic campaigns and mobilizations;
• delegating a representative to the International Women’s Secretariat; and
• organizing annual International Women Workers Days.
If the head of the Zhenotdel of the CC is not a member of the CC, the head has the right to attend all sessions of the CC with a decisive vote on all questions concerning the Departments, and a consultative vote on all other questions. The head of the Zhenotdel, or the chairman of the Commission is appointed by the CC of the Party or is elected at a general Party Congress. The decisions and decrees of all Departments or Commissions are subject to final approval by their respective Party Committees. The number of members in the Central Department and the number of these who have a decisive vote is established by the Party CC.
On Work on the International Level
The leadership of the work of the Communist Parties of all countries, uniting the forces of women workers around tasks advanced by the Communist International and recruiting women of all countries and peoples to the revolutionary struggle for Soviet power and the dictatorship of the working class on a world scale, is the responsibility of the International Women’s Secretariat of the Communist International.
1. This and the following four paragraphs were submitted as amendments to the Preliminary Theses. Back
2. This paragraph was the second amendment to the Preliminary Theses. Back
3. This is one of three paragraphs not in the Preliminary or Press Bureau versions. We were unable to determine when this amendment was added. Back
4. This and the following eight paragraphs, i.e., to the end of the section “The Work of the Party Among Women in Soviet Countries,” were omitted from the official CI text in German published in 1921 by Carl Hoym. In the Preliminary Theses these paragraphs appear in the section “Methods of Agitation and Propaganda”; they were moved here in the final version. Back
5. This refers to the Decree of the Soviet of People’s Commissars “On the Recruitment of Women Workers and Peasants to Serve in Soviet Institutions,” 11 April 1921, that established the legal framework for the delegate system. Back
6. This paragraph was the final amendment to the Preliminary Theses. Back
7. This and the next paragraph are the other two paragraphs not in the Preliminary or Press Bureau versions. We were unable to determine when this amendment was added. Back
8. In the 1921 English version published by the Comintern, this paragraph appears at the beginning of this section. Back
9. The administrative areas of the Soviet Republics and the terminology used for these were changing in this period. The term Okrug here refers to a Region, an area smaller than a Province (in this document referred to as both Oblast and Gubernia) and larger than a County (Uyezd) or City. Back