Chapter 4 “Approached as a Force for Labour”

Communist Women’s Fight for Women Workers’ Rights in the Comintern, the Profintern, and Eastern Europe in the 1920s

In: Through the Prism of Gender and Work
Author:
Daria Dyakonova
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Abstract

The Communist Women’s Movement (CWM) emerged in 1920 following the foundation of the Communist International (the Comintern). The CWM’s program for women’s emancipation included total equality of rights, universal suffrage, and the participation of women in national and municipal governments. The economic emancipation of women and women’s rights at the workplace, however, were core points of the communists’ agenda. Communist women were active within the Red International of Labour Unions (or Profintern), a Comintern auxiliary organization established to coordinate communist activities in trade unions. Using unpublished archival sources and the press, this chapter recovers numerous unknown facets of communist women’s activities within the Profitern. It focuses on two aspects in particular: communist’s women’s activism within the Profintern, and the complex relationship between men and women within the trade union international of the communist movement. I demonstrate that organized communist women played a crucial role in setting up structures for women within the Profintern. These organizational bodies became particularly active in 1927–1928 and took up and promoted the specific demands of women workers. Their efforts were only partially successful, however, due to the lack of cooperation and sometimes open sexism of the male-dominated Profintern structures and leadership.

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Through the Prism of Gender and Work

Women’s Labour Struggles in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond, 19th and 20th Centuries

Series:  Studies in Global Social History, Volume: 51

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