[Petrograd: Tsentr. Tipograf, 1917]. One sided leaflet. 36,5x22 cm. Near fine.
A unique survival of the time and a historical evidence of the most important time in Russia’s history.
This is a flyer printed by the All-Russian League of Equal Rights for Women in 1917 for their political campaign for the election to the Constituent Assembly in November of 1917. The translation of the text on the flyer: ‘‘[Female] Citizens and [male] citizens! The League of Equality for Women, wishing that the right of women to participate in the Constituent Assembly was not only on paper, expose its candidates to the Constituent Assembly. Vote for the list number 7. If you want our children not to grow up without a home and the old people to not die on the street - send women to the Constituent Assembly. In America, Australia and other countries where women take part in the drafting of laws the number of schools is multiplied, prisons are empty, debauchery and drunkenness noticeably diminish, the protection of children and the elderly is fully secured by law. Let’s send women to the Constituent Assembly too. The old Russia was built only by men, and the grief and misfortunes of the motherland were always shared with them by mothers, wives and daughters. A new Russia should be built by women and men together! The most important Russian laws will be written in the Constituent Assembly. From the laws that will be created in the Constituent Assembly, the fate and life of many generations depends not only on men, but also on women, and so send women to the Constituent Assembly...’’
The movement for women’s political rights which was given the name ‘‘women’s liberation movement’’ in Russia became possible only with the beginning of the revolution of 1905 when the question of democratization of the political system of Russia as a whole arose. In the campaign to provide women with political rights, the oldest women’s association - the All-Russian Women’s Mutual Charity Society, established in 1895 - was actively involved. New women’s organizations were created that put before political demands on the first place: the Union for the Equality of Women (1905), Women’s Progressive Party (1905), All-Russian League of Equal Rights for Women (1907).
The most influential organization was the Union for the Equality of Women which had 48 offices in various cities of Russia and actively conducted agitation among women workers and peasants. After its disintegration the League of Equal Rights for Women became its successor. Members of the League deliberately abandoned the broad political program and focused their attention only on the suffragist demands, that is, on the voting right. It should be noted that at this time in the speeches of the Russian equal rights activists, the support of the tactics of those Western feminists, which aimed at achieving censorial suffrage, was increasingly sounded. This was facilitated by the tougher electoral policy of the Russian government and the futility of efforts to
achieve universal suffrage. Members of the League practiced agitation tours around the provinces (Orel, Saratov, Rostov-on-Don, Kremenets, Tomsk, Kiev, Simferopol, Narva). As a result, branches of the League emerged in many cities, including Moscow (1910), Kharkov (1912), Tomsk (1914), Yekaterinburg (1914). The following departments were established under the League: a reading room for street children with a view to fight child prostitution and its prevention, a department against the involvement of women in debauchery, a publishing committee that published cheap pamphlets and books on the women’s issue, an editorial commission that published the proceedings of the congress, lecture department. Every day reports were given on the issues of
women’s equality in the League’s premises. The League became the largest and the most wide spread organization.
Already in February after the revolution delegates from the League repeatedly met with the leaders of the Soviet of Workers ‘and Soldiers’ Deputies on the issue of women’s suffrage. But, as it turned out, the Soviet of Workers ‘and Soldiers’ Deputies was not ready in practice to implement the program guidelines of its party. The refusal to immediately grant (to the League’s demand) political rights to women was again motivated by the notorious conservatism of the Russian peasant woman or was proposed for solution at the Constituent Assembly.
So the League organized the famous mass march on March 19, 1917 which brought together about forty thousand women. Its solemn decoration with theatrical elements undoubtedly contained references to the first suffragette parade in Washington on March 3, 1913. This was the most numerous and memorable performance of the Russian women’s movement which indicated its political weight: as is known, the result of the manifestation was the adoption by the Provisional Government of a decree on universal suffrage.
Already in May the first local election was held in which women participated. Later in September women like men became politically capable in the conduct of elections to the supreme authority of the country - the Constituent Assembly. The League participated in election as its own party under the number 7. This flyer is the evidence of that historical moment.