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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

Final Frontier: The Road of a Million Bones

Snaking through Russia’s wild and unforgiving Far East, small towns dot an otherwise barren and lunar landscape. A single road, the Kolyma Route, connects the furthermost outposts of the former Soviet empire. But, the road is also known by a more sinister name, the ‘Road of Bones’.

culture

The eagle has landed: Hunting with the last eagle hunters in Kyrgyzstan

High above the southern shore of Issyk-Kul lake, in east Kyrgyzstan, we wait and watch for movement on the rocky hillside below. Movement means prey. And that means that the hunt is on. For centuries, the nomadic people of Central Asia have used eagles to hunt for food and fur. On one a freezing morning in December, I went hunting with Nur-Sultan, Kyrgyzstan’s most famous eagle hunter.

culture

60 Years in the Making: The Domestication of the Siberian Silver Fox

For millennia, dogs have lived side-by-side with humans. It took thousands of years to domesticate them. Cats have lived amongst humans for more than 4,000 years, but are still only considered semi-domesticated. But, it only took 35 years to domesticate the silver fox in Siberia. For the last 60 years, a team of Soviet geneticists have been running a unique biology experiment which gives us a real-time window into domestication in action.

culture

Soviet Sanatoriums: The Crumbling Remains of Tskaltubo, Georgia

In the USSR, a spa weekend wasn’t a pampered holiday. It was a requisite, prescribed by the Soviet state. In their heyday, millions of citizens across the Soviet Union visited sanatoriums each year, on an all expenses retreat paid for by the state. Today these icons of communism are crumbling, in varying states of decay, with just a few still welcoming guests.

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