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100th anniversary of Rabotnitsa: time to recreate its success

 

Rabotnitsa

Rabotnitsa issue 1, 1923

On International Women’s Day we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Rabotnitsa (The Woman Worker).

Started by a group of Bolshevik women, including Nadezhda Krupskaya, Konkordiya Samoilova and Inessa Armand, the first issue came out on 8 March 1914 and covered current events in the workers’ movement, paying particular attention to the participation of women workers.

Rabotnitsa also reported on women’s working conditions, along with stories of revolutionary struggles abroad.

The magazine aimed to educate and raise the political consciousness of women workers, as well as stress their common interests with working class men, not only in Russia but also all around the world.

In the first year, the editorial board produced seven issues with a circulation of 12,000. The money needed to support the publication was collected from women factory workers and they distributed it in their workplaces.

After the 1917 February Revolution, Rabotnitsa was re-launched as a journal run by the Zhenotdel, the newly established women’s section of the Bolsheviks. The magazine was an organising tool. Later that year the Zhenotdel ran a Petrograd Conference of Working Women, just prior to the October Revolution. After the Bolsheviks took power, the women’s section built on its success by organising the first All-Russian Congress of Women Workers in 1918.

As Lenin argued, the newspaper is the scaffolding of the party, “not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser”. And that was how Rabotnitsa started out.

However, as Stalin rolled back the gains of the revolution, Rabotnitsa tragically changed from being a revolutionary organising tool to reinforcing the role of women in the home, with articles on motherhood and housekeeping tips.

 

We want a socialist women’s magazine

Fast-forward to today, the revolutionary left is once again discussing the need for a working class women’s publication. The International Socialist Network (ISN) put out the call to other left activists, and the first meeting was a positive example of how people from different political organisations can work together.

Following the revolutionary Rabotnitsa model, consensus was quickly reached among those in the room; the magazine will be a tribune of working class women and a campaigning tool to build support and solidarity with struggles across the UK and internationally.

Join our collective effort to launch a working class women’s publication. If you are interested in getting involved drop us a line at womenspub@gmail.com

Join our Facebook group: ‘We Want A Women’s Mag

If you agree with this article, please join or donate
Send news, comments and reports to contact@workerspower.co.uk

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