Women in Russia: Life After 1917

Title: Women in Russia: Life After 1917


The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 marked a significant turning point in Russian history, bringing about profound changes in various aspects of society, including women’s rights. This blog post delves into the ways in which the lives of Russian women improved after the revolution, exploring the promises made by the Bolsheviks and the subsequent challenges faced during the civil war and Stalin’s rise to power.

Women’s Suffrage and Bolshevik Promises:

One of the most notable achievements for women’s rights in Russia was the granting of suffrage shortly before the October Revolution. This marked a significant step forward, as women had previously been denied the right to vote. The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, further pledged to advance women’s rights and promote gender equality.

Improvements in Women’s Rights:

  • Legal Reforms: The Bolsheviks introduced several legal reforms aimed at improving women’s rights. These included the legalization of abortion, the establishment of maternity leave policies, and the recognition of women’s equal rights in marriage and divorce.
  • Education and Employment Opportunities: Women gained increased access to education and employment opportunities under the Soviet regime. They were encouraged to pursue higher education and enter various professions, including traditionally male-dominated fields such as engineering and medicine.
  • Participation in Politics and Government: Women were actively involved in politics and government during the early years of the Soviet Union. They held positions of power and influence, including serving as government ministers and members of the Communist Party.

Challenges and Setbacks:

Despite the initial progress made in women’s rights, the Bolshevik promises for further advancements were hindered by the outbreak of civil war and the rise of Joseph Stalin. The civil war created immense social and economic disruption, diverting resources and attention away from women’s issues.

Stalin’s consolidation of power led to a reversal of some of the gains made by women. He implemented conservative policies that restricted women’s reproductive rights and emphasized traditional gender roles. Women were increasingly confined to domestic responsibilities, and their participation in the workforce and politics declined.


The period following the October Revolution of 1917 brought about significant improvements in women’s rights in Russia. The Bolsheviks introduced legal reforms, expanded educational and employment opportunities, and encouraged women’s participation in politics and government. However, the civil war and Stalin’s rise to power presented challenges and setbacks, ultimately limiting the full realization of women’s rights in the Soviet Union.


  • History
  • Women’s Studies
  • Russian Studies
  • Social Studies

Level: High School

Selected Code: 6662

Selected Category: US History