Articles and images published in Soviet newspapers on March 8, International Communist Woman’s Day, provide the most obvious examples of how women were used as symbols in a propaganda campaign. These texts and images were clearly intended to convey a certain message about the changing role of women in the Soviet system. In particular, March 8 publications celebrated the achievements of Soviet women in part by comparing their lives to the difficulties of Russian women “in the past,” prior to the revolution, and to contemporary women “outside the Soviet borders,” which included the capitalist countries of Western Europe and the United States and the Asian and African colonial peoples ruled by European governments. In contrast to the themes a decade earlier, this text also reveals subtle changes in this message, including the growing prominence of Stalin and other individuals as essential leaders, and the downplaying of promises of a complete transformation in daily life.

Source: Pravda, “International Communist Woman’s Day,” March 9, 1939.


In the Bol’shoi theater, a celebration of March 8, International Communist Women’s Day, occurred yesterday, organized by the Moscow Committee of the All Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), the Moscow Soviet, and the VTsSPS, in conjunction with party and soviet organizations, Stakhanovites, shock workers, and the Soviet intelligentsia of the city of Moscow.

The hall was more than filled to capacity, and burst into warm applause when at the presidium appeared the leaders of Moscow party and soviet organizations and the VTsSPS, and the famous women and heroes of the Soviet Union, the heroines of labor and award-winners whose names are familiar to the entire nation. The meeting opened with a welcoming speech by comrade Popov, the secretary of the Moscow city committee of the VKP(b). Places at the presidium were taken by comrades Shcherbakov, Chernousov, Pronin, Shvernik, Marshal of the Soviet Union Budennyi, Nikolaeva, Marina Raskova, Valentina Grizodubova, Polina Osipenko, Zinaida Troitskaia, T. Fedorova, Evdokiia and Mariia Vinogradova, O. Leonova, and others.

Comrade Fedorova proposed to elect an honored presidium. The first name nominated was comrade Stalin. Shouts of “hurrah” and exclamations of “Long live our own Stalin!” and “We raise our banner to salute Stalin!” rolled through the hall.

Accompanied by stormy applause from all participants in the celebratory meeting, the candidates elected to the honorary presidium included the members of the Politburo of the Communist Party led by comrade Stalin, as well as comrades Dimitrov, Tel’man, and Pasionariia.

The secretary of the VTsSPS, comrade Nikolaeva, made a speech about International Communist Woman’s Day: “We have assembled on the eve of historic events. In two days, the voice of the leader of the people, comrade Stalin, will be heard from the tribunal of the XVIII Congress of our party. Comrade Stalin will describe the results of the gigantic victories won by our country, and will set out the path toward solving the even greater tasks set by the third five year plan.”

Comrade Nikolaeva talked about the rise of the Soviet woman, about the heroic and energetic path taken by women of our country, and about the concern for women shown by the Soviet government and party of Lenin-Stalin. In her speech, comrade Nikolaeva referred to clear evidence that the Soviet woman had secured an honored place on all fronts of socialist development and in all areas of the political and public life of our country. The deputies to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR include 189 women, and the deputies to the Supreme Soviets of the union republics include 848 women. What a clear example of the growth of the political activism and the political maturity of the Soviet woman! Comrade Nikolaeva spoke about the heroism of the Soviet woman and the unforgettable flight taken by V. Grizodubova, P. Osipenko, and M. Raskova. The heroines were located right there, on the presidium, and the hall greeted them with warm applause. Comrade Nikolaeva described how Soviet women had mastered technology and knowledge and had become powerful economic leaders. She cited the example of Zinaida Troitskaia, who successfully mastered the complex craft of driving a locomotive engine, became an engineer, and now is the director of the Moscow regional railway. Zinaida Troitskaia was also located right there on the presidium, and her success was recognized with warm applause. Speakers also talked about the tremendous assistance that had been provided to the woman in our country by the Soviet government and the party of Lenin-Stalin, about the many millions of benefits given to mothers with many children, and about the steady growth in the number of nurseries and kindergartens.

Expressing the thoughts and feelings of the entire hall, speakers referred to the warm sympathy felt by Soviet women for the women of China and Spain, who were heroically fighting for the honor and independence of their homelands against fascist invaders.

After her speech, Hero of the Soviet Union Marina Raskova proposed to send a letter of greeting to comrade Stalin on behalf of the assembly. With a warm ovation, the hall approved this heartfelt greeting.