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Behind the Poster: The Story of International Women's Day

Posters like this one thanking women workers for their service to the creation of a Socialist utopia weren’t just lip-service. From its founding days, the Soviet Union recognised the power of women. After-all, they were the ones who kickstarted the Russian Revolution. 

Bread and Peace

On the 8th of March 1917, female factory workers in Petrograd - now called Saint Petersburg - held a mass strike. Their demands were simple: peace and bread. A worsening economy and repeated failures on the battlefields of World War I meant both peace and bread were in short supply. Word of the protest quickly spread from factory to factory, and became an insurrection. 

Czar Nicholas had survived a revolution in 1905. This time, he didn’t have the support of the Russian people. He ordered soldiers to suppress the protests. Many refused and joined the protesters instead. Less than a week later, he abdicated his throne to his brother, who refused to accept it.

Margaret Bourke-White’s photograph of agricultural workers in the fields of the Soviet Union, 1941

Recognising Women’s Role in the Russian Revolution

After the czar’s abdication, the new Communist state became the first government of a major power to grant women the right to vote. Lenin took it one step further and declared March 8th Women's Day, and an official Soviet holiday.

The Russian revolution was the catalyst for the celebration of women internationally. Other countries began to celebrate their own Women’s Day, and in 1975, the United Nations declared March 8th International Women’s Day. Eager to disassociate the holiday from its Socialist origins, the UN assembly noted that it was to be observed “on any day of the year by member states, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.” Shop our Women themed posters below or explore the collection here.

Early Cancer is Treatable | Lithuania | 1980£500.00
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Further Reading

culture

Z is for Sorrow: How a Letter Became the Symbol for Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Scrawled on the side of tanks and military vehicles, the letter "Z" caught the world's attention in the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The letter is bold and can be painted in a single stroke, yet it doesn’t exist in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. So what does this distinctive and ominous symbol mean?

culture

Russia’s Vulnerability can be Shown with a Map

Russia is vast. Immense beyond comprehension. It spans eleven time zones and shares borders with 14 countries. Despite its colossal size, it is vulnerable. Russia knows this. The West also knows this. Any enduring superpower needs easy access to waterways and oceans to facilitate the movement of trade. It also needs to be able to protect its borders. Russia’s very existence depends on geography. The stakes are very high.

culture

The Enduring Legacy of the Lada

It was the peak of the Cold War. Scientists on both sides of the Atlantic were building bigger and more powerful rockets. The Soviet Union had just sent the first human to space. Space was the next frontier. Cars, by comparison, seemed archaic. But, for the USSR, a Soviet mass-produced car was a matter of national pride.

art

Abandoned Kyrgyzstan: Aalam-Ordo, the Centre of the Universe

Along the southern border of Issyk-Kul lake, Kyrgyzstan, two shining golden gates and 1,500 metre long wall shield a giant hundred hectare complex. I scaled the wall and on the other side, I discovered hundreds of abandoned yurts, an outdoor theatre and a handful of colourful peeling murals. ‘Aalam-Ordo’, which translates as ‘the centre of the universe’, now sits abandoned.

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