Revolutions effect on the roles of women in Russia and Cubaby Rit Nosotro
Compare the effect of revolution on the roles of women in Russia and Cuba.
Thesis: Revolution brings change all around the world. Some changes are advantageous and others are detrimental to society. The Communist revolutions in Russia and Cuba changed their respective societies in several different ways. Among these is the transformation of the role of women in each of these countries.
Summary: Partly due to Communist revolutions, the role of women has changed in several different countries. In Cuba, women were constitutionally equal in all aspects both before and after the Communist revolution. They were not, however, treated the same as men before the revolution. The revolution initiated a time where women would be given near equal job and social opportunities.
In Russia, women only became equal as a result of the Communist Revolution. In this newly equal state, education became available for most all women. This gave to a rise in literacy throughout the nation. In both countries, the role of women changed in many beneficial ways.
Revolution brings change all around the world. Some changes are advantageous and others are detrimental to society. The Communist revolutions in Russia and Cuba changed their respective societies in several different ways. Among these is the transformation of the role of women in each of these countries.
Women in pre-Revolutionary Cuba had a more respectable standing than women in any other Latin American countries, with exception to Argentina and Chile. According to the Cuban constitution in 1940 (pre-revolution) men and women were officially equal. Even before this, in 1934, Cuban women received the right to vote. Despite this constitutional equality, women, located in this very “macho” country, still held poor paying jobs. Before the revolution in 1959, about 70 percent of the women in Cuba were domestic servants.
After the Cuban revolution, when Fidel Castro and his Communist government took charge of the country, women remained constitutionally equal and opportunities in general became more available. Castro, the communist dictator, introduced a new education system that declared, "Work must be the chief teacher of the young.” Women found better jobs, and this, in turn, allowed for a fuller education. While women could better support their families, their children could complete their schooling, as they no longer needed to drop out to help support their families. Cuba held a major push to ensure that women had an education at least up to the sixth grade. Over 300,000 stay-at-home-women had completed the sixth grade by the close of 1984. By 1990, over half of all graduates from universities were women. Since the revolution, the numbers of jobs, schools, and opportunities all across the board for women had risen dramatically. Cuban women, although still discriminated against, have held policy-making positions, such as mayor, judges, and senators.
In contrast with Cuba, Russian women did not share the same benefits that Cuban ladies did before their revolution. Russian women, before the overthrow of the Czars, had a very high unemployment rate and over half of the unemployed were women. During some periods, unemployment rates of women reached astonishing rates of 80 and 90 percent. The traditional women were generally homebound: in charge of food and children. Previous to the revolution, women were not equal and they where education in general was poor.
Consequently to the Bolshevik revolution, men and women became equal. While this was a huge step towards emancipation of prejudice and discrimination towards women, women still could not live economically independent. Since women at the beginning of the revolution where expected to work for socialism just as men, women where often provided with childcare services. During the era following the revolution, women where slowly taken out of the traditionally family setting. As they spent most of the day working, they were no longer at home preparing the food or educating the children. Eventually, Stalin altered the Communist “family separation” policy. There came a point in his rule that he realized that it was the strict education taught in the family nucleus that kept the Soviet youth from challenging Stalin’s actions. Women slowly returned to their mother status, instead of the communal childcare.
Even when women were working in the factories, total equality was never reached. Women’s wages were still lower than that of men. As late in the Communist empire as 1975, women’s wages were still 67-73 percent of that of men. Later, as the penurious conditions of Soviet Russia worsened, women were resorting to prostitution. The Bolsheviks claimed to be committed to abolish it but the matter only worsened. When a capitalist employer bought a woman’s labor he also thought he owned her body. As often seen in history, when unemployment rates rise so do the number of prostitutes, and that is exactly what happened in Russia. This fact has been blamed on the Bolsheviks as well as Stalin, yet the stopping of prostitution had to begin with the ladies themselves. Prostitutes needed to realize that they had potential in the workforce as part of the Russian working class and then forsake prostitution completely.
Aside from the increase in prostitution during Stalin’s Soviet era, the overall education level rose. The Communist government pushed for a fully literate generation. Of all women ages 15 and over only 3% were illiterate as of 1989 (before the fall of the USSR). The educational system in Russia produced almost a 100 percent literacy rate; this is much better than that of Cuba. Russian women finally realized that the only way to get out of prostitution and scale the social ladder was to get a proper education.
In comparison, the communist revolutions had different effects in different places, depending on the cultural structures already in place in those countries. In Cuba women were constitutionally equal before the revolution, while Russians never became fully equal, even after the revolution in 1917. On the other hand, Russia enjoyed a great reform in its educational system, something that Cuba still lacks. Each Communist country has been transformed in many, yet differing ways. Some of the changes were auspicious, while for some, the diminutive benefits were not worth the struggle and sacrifice made for them.
1. Before the revolution in Cuba what percent of women in Cuba were domestic servants?
2. The education system in Russia has produced almost a ?% education rate.
3. Which country enjoyed equality between sexes before a revolution toward Communism?
c. Puerto Rico
4. What negative aspect resulted in Russia after the revolution?
a. A nearly fully literate generation
b. An increase in prostitution
c. World War III
d. A growth in the Evangelical church
Answers: 1.b, 2.d, 3.d, 4.b
Bunck, Julie. “Women in Pre-Revolutionary Cuba.” <http://www.historyofcuba.com/ history/women1.htm>
“Constitution of the Republic of Cuba”<http://www.cubanet.org/ref/dis/const_92_e.htm> (1992)
Pickard, Jen. “Women in Soviet Russia.” <http://www.newyouth.com/archives/theory/ women/women_in_soviet_union.asp> (1988)
“The Role of Women” US Library of Congress <http://countrystudies.us/russia/51.htm>
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