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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
Night at Karlstejn | Poland | 1974£350.00
A Rock-Style Tragedy | Lithuania | 1989£250.00
List of all posters

Further Reading

culture

Samantha Smith: The 10 Year Old Girl Who Became an Icon for Peace

The pressure was building. As the world stood on the sidelines at the height of the Cold War, both superpowers battled for ideological supremacy, each backed by their growing arsenal of nuclear weapons. Tensions kept rising.

architecture

Soviet Status Symbols: The Unique Balconies of the USSR

In Ukraine, there are balconies shaped like ship hulls and castles. DIY renovations extend over the streets below, each decorated in a unique style representative of their owner’s identity and requirements.

art

In Conversation with a Soviet Poster Artist: Vladimir Tverdokhlebov

Art runs in my family. My father Sergey Grigoryevish Tverdokhlebov was an artist and spent most of his life working as an art teacher. My uncle Ivan Grigoryevich Tverdokhlebov was a prominent artist in Russia and Chechnya.

culture

Murder, Money and Michael J Fox: Ice Hockey in the Wild, Wild East

Ice Hockey was everything in the Soviet Union. The USSR national team dominated ice hockey on the international stage, winning nearly every world championship and Olympic tournament from the early 50s up until the fall of the Soviet Union. After the USSR collapsed, the money dried up.

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