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From: The Socialist issue 940, 15 March 2017: NHS: strikes and protests can stop cuts

Search site for keywords: Women - soviet - Germany - East Germany - Benefits - Russian revolution

Women's struggles reduced to perfume sales and career ladder

Women, including members of the Socialist Party's sister organisation, protesting against Trump in Brazil

Women, including members of the Socialist Party's sister organisation, protesting against Trump in Brazil   (Click to enlarge)

Writing at, Clare Doyle pointed out that "only in a few countries - Pakistan and Turkey among them - have demonstrations regularly taken place on International Women's Day."

When I was younger it was seldom marked in Britain, but in Germany it was observed. I remember one year coming back from a trip to East Germany with a photo showing how the Stalinist state celebratead 8 March.

At the time, many of the members of the German Young Socialists thought East Germany was a genuine socialist state.

I didn't agree, and asked them whether a bouquet of flowers, several bottles of perfume and a shop window sign saying "treat her on International Women's Day" was what German socialists like Luise Zietz and Clara Zetkin had in mind when they proposed an International Women's Day back in 1910.

Women in the Stalinist states did enjoy some benefits over women under capitalism, but nothing like the gains first achieved in the Russian revolution. Stalin's rule changed that, and in the Soviet Union just as in East Germany, International Women's Day was mostly a ritual.

In 1965, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR declared it a holiday "in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defence of their fatherland during the Great Patriotic War."

The 'fatherland' and 'patriotic' naming of World War Two give an idea of how rotten the Soviet Union's politics had become. And then they added: "But still, women's day must be celebrated as are other holidays."

Was it encouraging that the United Nations (UN) adopted International Women's Day back in 1977? It did put it back on the international calendar. But UN efforts to tackle illiteracy, poverty and inequality have not achieved much.

An International Women's Day organisation entitled 'Be Bold for Change' mailed this year, asking me "to call on the masses or call on myself to help forge a better-working and a more gender-inclusive world".

Among its advertised events I found "Avon IWD - the beauty of doing good". Other sponsors include BP, Vodafone, Caterpillar, Western Union, the European Bank and Pepsico.

There is more than a century dividing the International Women's Day of revolutionaries like Luise Zietz and Clara Zetkin from the corporate-led drivel about career ladders. AVON CALLING - who's listening?

Sue Powell, Gloucester

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