WOMEN IN PUBLIC LIFE
IN order to interest women, both urban and rural, in trade union
and soviet work, and particularly to train them in the execution
of such work, the women's sections of the provincial department's
of the Communist Party not only organise meetings, distribute
literature, and so on, but they have evolved a new method of approach
altogether, namely, the Institute of " Women Delegates," as it is called.
These delegates were in the first instance, when the women were still
very backward, chosen from the most promising women of a given factory,
industry, hospital, school, or village, as well as from among the wives of
working men. Later they were elected by their fellow working women, or
the most active section of them in these factories, institutions, or villages.
In the towns, one delegate is elected for every twenty working women,
and in the villages one for every 500 peasant women. These elections
take place annually. Endeavours are made to secure the election of
mainly non-party women as delegates, thus ensuring the participation of
an ever wider circle of women in public work.
The delegates remain at work, but at the same time are given the
right of entry and participation in the work of the local Soviets, different
delegates taking part in the different sections of a Soviet, namely, education,
health, food, social insurance, mutual aid committees, and so on. In
addition, special trade union, co-operative, and other sections are organised.
The women delegates thus get a practical knowledge of social, trade union,
co-operative, and general public administrative work, which they spread
amongst their fellow--workers. At the same time they form a link between
the Soviets and the rank-and-file women workers. General meetings of
these delegates over a given district or town or rural area are held once
or twice monthly, to discuss both the work of the delegates and general
questions of social, economic, political, and international interest. The
total number of such delegates over the whole of the U.S.S.R. in 1923-4
was 146,640, but in July, 1924, there were 208,704 delegates, of whom
87,193 were town delegates and 121,511 village delegates. The number
of women, manual and non-manual town workers, represented by these
delegates was nearly 903,000; the number of housewives represented was
nearly 323,000; and the peasant women represented were over 4,612,000.
The number of working women in local Soviets constitutes 18-5 per
cent, of the total membership of the urban Soviets. The number of peasant
women in Soviets is 40,000, or 12 per cent, of the total membership of the
In the district executive committees there are 1,000 peasant women
and 200 of these are chairmen of their Executives. Women constitute
8-8 per cent, of the membership of the Communist Party and 10-1 per
cent, of the candidates for membership of the party, or probationers.
In addition, there are women members of the Union Central Executive
Committee, as well as on the Central Executive Committees of all the
constituent Republics ; there are also women diplomatic representatives
of the Soviet Government abroad, and the Commissariat for Education
in Georgia is a woman, Mme. Orakheleshvili, who administers her Department with conspicuous ability and success.