Women and Communal Strikes in the Crisis of 1917 - 1922
An interesting fact concerning the protests by working class in the period during and succeeding WWI was not initial demands for revolutionary change or worker’s rights, but instead forcing government to provide basic life necessities of food and shelter during times of rationing. Though there were differences in geography and outcomes, the goal was the same in demanding survival over social and economic change. The politicization of these movements did not occur until their male counterparts, who did hold memberships in unions and radical political groups, sympathized with their female equivalents and participated in these marches did violence or government crackdowns occur. It was because of politics that these women avoided the idea in order to elicit sympathy and avoid ferocious reprisals against them.
The organization of these marches ties into the community structure of working-class women. Though these events seemed to occur at random, they shared a few common characteristics. The communities these women resided were usually near their or husbands/fathers/brothers/male companions workplaces and also government facilities. Another was the close bonds formed amongst them through interactions in work, markets, churches, and other public areas of gathering Whether it was babysitting for neighbors’ children or each other, working-class omen held more deeper solidarity than women of higher class standings. Though food shortages were frequent occurrences, when women sought to march for better access to feed themselves outside communities gave sympathy that they deserved these privileges. Men did form groups to gain attention on working-class rights and political reform; sometimes they seldom paid much attention to the needs of their female counterparts who upheld community values.
An important march was the one in Petrograd on February 1917, in the Julian calendar which corresponds to our Gregorian March, in imperialist Russia during the wave of losses that hindered the nation in the onslaught of WWI. What originally began as a demand for food to feed themselves eventually became a catalyst for the later Russian Revolution. The price of food, housing, and life commodities rose dramatically along with employment layoffs led certain officials to deem the area ripe for mass discontent. Purposely selecting International Women’s Day on February 23 to stage a strike, women rallied around the idea of upholding their role in feeding their loved ones. Not only did they gain support from fellow working class men, but also from students and low-middle class women in order to save their communities of dying from hunger. Though along the way they freed their politically and union-active men from prisons, political parties withheld from engaging in the strike in fears that women were insufficient to carry out a revolution against the Tsarist regime. Two days after the Czar Nicholas II ordered the...