BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Soviet women’s anti-colonial solidarity with Asia and Africa and the Soviet ”women of color”

Fri8  Apr04:00pm(20 mins)
Teaching Room 5


Yulia Gradskova


The presentation is dedicated to the solidarity campaigns organized by the Committee of Soviet Women (CSW) and the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) with women fighting against colonial oppression in Asia and Africa in the 1950s-1970s. The CSW was an influential member of the WIDF, the transnational organization with a headquarter in East Berlin. The WIDF had as its aims the defence of women’s rights as mothers and workers and accused the colonial system in violating rights of women.Using materials from the Soviet archives, in my presentation I explore how the Federation functioned as an important place for encounters between women from different countries fighting against colonialism as well as from recently independent countries. I will also show some problems that the CSW and WIDF both led by European (and mainly – White and communist) women had in their contacts with women from Asia and Africa. In particular I explore the growing role of the Central Asian women – both as hosts of the international meetings and the WIDF representatives abroad – in promoting solidarity. In particular, I will show that some of the selected and high positioned women from the Soviet republics of Central Asia were presented by the Soviet propaganda as former colonial subjects, who had similar experiences to women fighting colonialism. At the same time they were expected to act as modern women “speaking Soviet” language (Igmen 2012) of solidarity, modernity and development.