The Struggle within the Struggle

By Sally Schonfeldt

The roots of International Women’s Day, which is being celebrated today the world over, go back to 1913 when a group of extraordinary women who helped instigate the Russian Revolution first declared it an international day of solidarity amongst women workers fighting for a communist revolution. Alexandra Kollontai* was one of the main initiators of this first International Women’s Day and went on to play a pivotal, if lesser known, role in the Russian Revolution. She was the only woman member of the highest order of the Bolshevik party in the crucial revolutionary year of 1917. In fact the International Women’s Day that occurred in Petrograd on the 8th of March 1917, where a strike of 90,000 workers was led by women textile workers marching to celebrate that same day, was to become the first incendiary day of the entire revolution. With these radical beginnings in mind the importance of the continual struggle, not only for women’s rights, but for a revolution for all, is more important than ever. REBEL, INSURRECT, REVOLT! OUT ON THE STREETS!THE WOMEN’S REVOLUTION IS COMING!

*Alexandra Kollontai (b.1872 - d. 1952) lived in Zürich between 1898 and 1899 where she studied economics at the University of Zürich. A selection of her writings and other documents can be used and accessed as part of the open archive “The Struggle within the Struggle: the Zürich Chapter”, which is a collection of material relating to women involved in revolutionary movements and that for the Kunsthalle Zürich exhibition Speak, Lokal presents a focused selection on women revolutionaries who lived or live in Zürich.