All-Russian Union for Women's Equality (Russian : Всероссийский союз равноправия женщин) was a liberal feminist organisation formed in the Russian Empire during the Russian Revolution of 1905. The Union demanded equal political, particularly voting, rights to women. The Union had main centers in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and a number of local chapters in various cities of the Empire. At its peak in 1906, the Union had 8,000 members and 78 branches in 65 cities. The Union published monthly magazine Women's Union (Союз женщин) in 1907–09. The Union disintegrated soon after the end of the revolution. Despite lack of tangible feminist achievements, the Union succeeded in raising awareness and political consciousness of many women in the Russian Empire.
Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.
The Russian Empire was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.
Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 15.1 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and approximately 25 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.
The Union was formed by 30 liberal women a month after the Bloody Sunday (22 January 1905). The founding members included Zinaida Mirovich, Anna Kalmanovich, Liubov Gurevich, and Maria Chekhova.They felt that liberal organizations, like the Union of Liberation, were indifferent about women's rights.
Bloody Sunday or Red Sunday is the name given to the events of Sunday, 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1905 in St Petersburg, Russia, when unarmed demonstrators, led by Father Georgy Gapon, were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard as they marched towards the Winter Palace to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Anna Kalmanovich was a Russian feminist and suffragette. Her public activities began with philanthropy in the 1890s and moved to radical feminism over the next several decades. It is not known if she survived the Bolshevik-led October Revolution of 1917.
Liubov Yakovlevna Gurevich was a Russian editor, translator, author, and critic. She has been described as "Russia's most important woman literary journalist." From 1894 to 1917 she was the publisher and chief editor of the monthly journal The Northern Herald, a leading Russian symbolist publication based in Saint Petersburg. The journal acted as a rallying-point for the Symbolists Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Zinaida Gippius, Fyodor Sologub, Nikolai Minsky, and Akim Volynsky. In 1905 she joined the Moscow Art Theatre (MAT) as a literary advisor. She worked as an advisor and editor for the seminal Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski for the next 30 years and influenced his writing more than anyone else. Gurevich and Stanislavski had been writing to one another since the MAT's first tour to St Petersburg and became close friends.
On 10 April, the Union called the first meeting for women in Moscow. About 1,000 attendees laid the groundwork for the first congress of the Union on 7–10 May.The congress, chaired by Anna Miliukova (wife of Pavel Milyukov), was attended by some 300 official delegates, including 70 delegates sent from 26 local chapters, who adopted a far-reaching program that underscored that liberation of women was inseparable from liberation of the society as a whole. The Union did not focus solely on women's issues and joined the wider liberal movement, consciously using the term "women's liberation" and not "feminist". The program demanded a constituent assembly elected by equal, direct, secret, and universal voting (without regard to sex, nationality or religion), national autonomy for ethnic minorities, and abolition of the death penalty in addition to more women-oriented demands of equality before law, equal rights in any land reform, law protection and welfare guarantees for women workers, and co-education at every level. The issue of national autonomy was divisive: the Russian women were surprised by the importance of the autonomy for Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, Jewish, and Belarusian women. The next congress was held on 8–12 October 1905. The third congress was held on 21–24 May 1906.
Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov was a Russian historian and liberal politician. Milyukov was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party. In the Russian Provisional Government, he served as Foreign Minister, working to prevent Russia's exit from the First World War.
A constituent assembly or constitutional assembly is a body or assembly of popularly elected representatives which is assembled for the purpose of drafting or adopting a constitution or similar document. The constituent assembly is entirely elected by popular vote ; that is, all constituent assemblies are constitutional conventions, but a constitutional convention is not necessarily a constituent assembly. As the fundamental document constituting a state, a constitution cannot normally be modified or amended by the state's normal legislative procedures; instead a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly, the rules for which are normally laid down in the constitution, must be set up. A constituent assembly is usually set up for its specific purpose, which it carries out in a relatively short time, after which the assembly is dissolved. A constituent assembly is a form of representative democracy.
The Union petitioned City Dumas and zemstva to grant women voting rights.In May 1905, along with thirteen other unions, the Union became a founding member of the Union of Unions, an umbrella organization for trade and professional unions. It also joined the International Woman Suffrage Alliance and sent delegates to its congresses in Copenhagen (August 1906) and Amsterdam (June 1908). In various cities women organized meetings, wrote petitions, collected signatures, and presented them to various political institutions, including the State Duma. They lobbied various organizations to add women's suffrage to their agenda, but reception among male organizations was lukewarm as many supported women's rights in principle, but argued that in practice it was an inopportune moment to raise the issue. At the request of some sympathetic Duma delegates, the Union prepared specific recommendation on amending the legal code to incorporate women's rights, but the Duma was dissolved before further action could be taken.
City Duma is the parliament/legislative branch of power of in the Russian Empire and contemporary Russian cities, and before the entry into force of the new administrative-territorial division in 2009, in all the cities of Latvia.
The Union of Unions was a wide alliance of various professional unions formed in 1905, active during the revolutionary last years of the Russian Empire. One of those active in the formation of the Union of Unions was Pavel Milyukov, who later became the Foreign Minister in 1917.
The State Duma or Imperial Duma was the Lower House, part of the legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which held its meetings in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It convened four times between 27 April 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in February 1917. The First and the Second Dumas were more democratic and represented a greater number of national types than their successors. The Third Duma was dominated by gentry, landowners and businessmen. The Fourth Duma held five sessions; it existed until 2 March 1917, and was formally dissolved on 6 October 1917.
During the height of the revolution, including the Moscow Uprising of 1905, members of the Union actively supported the revolutionaries by fundraising, organizing first aid stations and canteens,marching in demonstrations and maintaining the barricades. Women also worked with other organizations, such as Red Cross, Union of Unions, and Unemployment Commission. The Union's budget for 1905–06 was 3,800 rubles, of which 1,000 rubles designated to support other organizations and strikers. In Fall 1906, the Saint Petersburg branch organized an agitation lecture tour; most popular lectures attracted audiences of up to 800. In 1907, the Union distributed 10,000 pamphlets and books in the countryside. Since not all women were literate, joint readings were organized.
While the Union's program reflected attempts to include issues relevant to both working class (welfare guarantees) and peasant women (equality in land reform), it had difficulty in attracting their participation and retaining their loyalty.The class solidarity was more important than gender unity. Internal disagreements and introduction of reactionary repressions by the Tsarist authorities led to quick dwindling of the Union. The Union was never officially registered as an organization. The journal Women's Union was discontinued in December 1909. It its mission, the Union was succeeded by the League for Women’s Equality.
The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, some of which was directed at the government. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies. It led to constitutional reform, including the establishment of the State Duma, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906.
Liberal feminism is an individualistic form of feminist theory, which focuses on women's ability to maintain their equality through their own actions and choices. Liberal feminists argue that society holds the false belief that women are, by nature, less intellectually and physically capable than men; thus it tends to discriminate against women in the academy, the forum, and the marketplace. Liberal feminists believe that "female subordination is rooted in a set of customary and legal constraints that blocks women's entrance to and success in the so-called public world". They strive for sexual equality via political and legal reform.
The Constitutional Democratic Party, also called Constitutional Democrats and formally the Party of People's Freedom, was a liberal political party in the Russian Empire encompassing constitutional monarchists and moderate republicans. Party members were called Kadets from the abbreviation K-D of the party name. Konstantin Kavelin's and Boris Chicherin's writings formed the theoretical basis of the party's platform. Historian Pavel Miliukov was the party's leader throughout its existence.
The Union of October 17, commonly known as the Octobrist Party, was a liberal-reformist constitutional monarchist political party in late Imperial Russia. It represented moderately right-wing, antirevolutionary and constitutionalist views.
The Zhenotdel, the women's department of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), was the section of the Russian Communist party devoted to women's affairs in the 1920s. It gave Women in the Russian Revolution new opportunities until Stalin closed it in 1930.
Ariadna Vladimirovna Tyrkova-Williams was a liberal politician, journalist, writer and feminist in Russia during the revolutionary period until 1920. Afterwards, she lived as a writer in Britain (1920–1951) and the United States (1951–1962).
Legislative elections were held in the Russian Empire from 26 March 1906 till 20 April. At stake were the 478 seats in the State Duma of the Russian Empire, the legislative assembly. Election for the First State Duma, which only ran from 27 April to 8 July (O.S.) 1906, returned a significant bloc of moderate socialists and two liberal parties which demanded further reforms. For this reason, it is sometimes called the Duma of Public Anger.
The Great Seimas of Vilnius was a major assembly held on December 4 and 5, 1905 in Vilnius, Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire, largely inspired by the Russian Revolution of 1905. It was the first modern national congress in Lithuania and dealt primarily not with the social issues that sparked the revolution, but with national concerns. Over 2,000 participants took part in the Seimas. The assembly made the decision to demand wide political autonomy within the Russian Empire and achieve this by peaceful means. It is considered an important step towards the Act of Independence of Lithuania, adopted on February 16, 1918 by the Council of Lithuania, as the Seimas laid the groundwork for the establishment of an independent Lithuanian state.
The Russian Revolutions of 1917 saw the collapse of the Russian Empire, a short-lived provisional government, and the creation of the world's first socialist state under the Bolsheviks. They made explicit commitments to promote the equality of men and women. Many early Russian feminists and ordinary Russian working women actively participated in the Revolution, and all were affected by the events of that period and the new policies of the Soviet Union.
Olga Andreyevna Shapir was a Russian writer and feminist.
Feminism in Russia originated in the 18th century, influenced by the Western European Enlightenment and mostly confined to the aristocracy. Throughout the 19th century, the idea of feminism remained closely tied to revolutionary politics and to social reform. In the 20th century Russian feminists, inspired by socialist doctrine, shifted their focus from philanthropic works to organizing among peasants and factory workers. After the February Revolution of 1917, feminist lobbying gained suffrage and nominal equality for women in education and the workplace; however, in the 1960s and 1970s, women continued to experience discrimination in certain career-paths as well as income inequality and a greater burden of household work. In spite of this, the concern with feminism waned during this period.
All-Russian League for Women's Equality was the most important women's organization in the Russian Empire from 1907 to the October Revolution of 1917. It was officially registered on 6 March 1907. Its membership was restricted to women and generally varied between 1,500 and 2,000 members with main branches in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and several smaller regional chapters, including those in Kharkov and Tomsk. It was governed by a 16-member council serving three-year terms. Many former members and leaders of the Union for Women's Equality joined the league, including Zinaida Mirovich, Anna Kalmanovich, Liudmila Ruttsen, Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams and Jekaterina Shchepkina.
The Lithuanian Women's Association was the first Lithuanian women's organization. It was active during the Russian Revolution of 1905 and campaigned for women's suffrage and for autonomy of Lithuania within the Russian Empire. After the revolution, it was replaced by the Lithuanian Women's Union.
Mariia Aleksandrovna Chekova, née Argamakova, was a Russian feminist, suffragette and educator. She was a founder of the Women’s Equal Rights Union in 1905 and organized petitions for women's suffrage that were submitted to the State Duma (Parliament). She edited the journal of the Union of Women for several years and served on the organizing committee of the first All-Russian Women's Congress in 1908.
Zinaida Sergeevna Ivanova, was a Russian feminist author and translator, under the pen-names of N. Mirovich and Zinaida Mirovich.
Ekaterina Shchepkina was a Russian feminist, historian and journalist.
Poliksena Shishkina-Iavein was a Russian suffragette and physician.
The All-Russian Peasant Union was a mass revolutionary organization uniting the peasantry and the rural intelligentsia, which arose at the height of the 1905 revolution.