Leaflet issued by the Petersburg Inter-District Committee of the RSDRP, on the International Day of Working Women, 23 February (8 March) [1917]

Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party
Proletarians of all countries, unite!

Comrade working women! For ten years now women of all countries have been marking 23 February as the day of working women, as the women's "May Day". American women were the first to decide to mark this day and make a show of their strength, and gradually the women of the whole world have joined them. On this day they hold meetings and gatherings, where they try to explain the reasons for our hard situation and show the way out. It is already a long time since hunger drove women into the factories, and for a long time now women, just like men, have been working all day at their machines. The factory bosses squeeze the sweat out of us just as they do with our male comrades. They imprison us for striking the same as the men, and, both we and the men have to fight the bosses. But women have only recently joined the workers' family, they are often still fearful, they do not know what to demand or how to demand it. Their ignorance and timidity has always been used and still is used by the bosses. On this day, comrades, let us think in particular about how we can defeat our enemies, the capitalists, as quickly as possible. Let us remember those near and dear to us at the front, let us remember the hard struggle through which they wrested every extra ruble of pay, every extra hour of rest, from the capitalists, and every freedom from the government. How many of them were sent to the front, to prison or into exile for their bold struggle! You have replaced them in the rear - in the factories and plants - and your duty is to continue their great cause. This cause is the liberation of all humanity from oppression and slavery. You, comrade working women, must not hold back those male comrades who remain. You must unite with them in a joint struggle against the government and the bosses, for whose sake the current war, which is shedding so much blood and so many tears, is being waged. This terrible war is already in its third year. Our fathers, husbands and brothers are dying. Our nearest and dearest return home in a wretched state, as cripples. The Tsar's government sends them to the front, gets them injured and killed, and does not trouble itself about feeding them. It has shed, and still sheds, the blood of workers, with no end in sight. It shot workers on 9 January, on 4 April during the strike on the Lena, and it has been shooting them recently in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Shuya, Gorlovka and Kostroma. They are spilling workers' blood on all fronts, the Tsarina herself is trading in the people's blood and selling off Russia piecemeal. They send the soldiers out to face gunfire and certain death almost unarmed.

They are killing hundreds of thousands of people at the front, and receive money for doing so. And in the rear the plant and factory owners want to use the war as a pretext for turning workers into their serfs. There are appalling price-rises in all towns, and hunger is knocking on every door. In the countryside they are taking the last remnants of grain and cattle for the war. We stand in queues for hours. Our children are going hungry. How many of them are now abandoned or have lost their parents? They are running wild, and many of them are becoming hooligans. Many girls, still children, have been driven by hunger onto the streets. How many children stand at machines, doing back-breaking work until late evening? Misery and tears are everywhere. It is not only in Russia - it is hard for working people in all countries. Recently the German government put down a rising of the hungry with great cruelty. In France the police are turning nasty, and are sending strikers to the front. Everywhere the war is bringing misery, price-hikes and the oppression of the working class. Comrade working women - what is it all for? Why is this war being fought? Do we really need to kill millions of Austrian and German workers and peasants? The German workers did not want to fight either. Our loved ones are not going to the front voluntarily, but because they are forced. Nor are the Austrian, English or German workers going voluntarily. They are seen off with tears, just like here. The war is being fought for gold, gleaming in they eyes of the capitalists, and for extortion. The ministers, factory owners and bankers are hoping to fish in troubled waters; they are getting rich in wartime; after the war they will be paying war taxes, but the workers and peasants are bearing all the sacrifices and paying all the costs. Dear women comrades, are we going to suffer for long in silence, only sometimes venting our pent-up anger against petty traders? After all, they are not responsible for the people's troubles, they themselves are being ruined. It is the government which is at fault; it started the war and is unable to finish it. It is ruining the country, and it is the government's fault that you are starving. It is the capitalists which are at fault; the war is being fought for their profits. And it is high time we told them: enough! Down with the criminal government and its whole gang of robberes and murderers! Long live peace! And the day of reckoning is drawing near. We stopped believing the tales of ministers and capitalists long ago. The people's anger is growing in all countries. Everywhere the workers are coming to understand that they cannot expect an end to the war from their governments. If they conclude peace, they will try to annex somebody else's land at the same time, to plunder another country, and this will lead to new slaughter. The workers do not need what is not theirs. Down with the autocracy! Long live the Revolution! Long live a Provisional Revolutionary Government!

Down with the war! Long live a Democratic Republic! Long live the international solidarity of the proletariat! Long live a united RSDRP!

1917. Petersburg Inter-district Committee
[Original in GARF, fond 1741, opis' 1, delo 36027. First published in Proletarskaya revolyutsiya 1923, Vol. 1 (13), pp. 282 - 284. Source for this translation: O A Shashkova, compiler, Fevral'skaya revolyutsiya 1917. Sbornik dokumentov i materialov. Rossiyskiy gosudarstvennyy gumanitarnyy universitet, Moscow, 1996, pp. 19 - 21. This leaflet was one of the first revolutionary proclamations to be issued during the upsurge in workers' struggle which culminated in the abdication of the Tsar, the formation of the Provisional Government and the establishment of the Petrograd Soviet in February-March 1917. The "Inter-District Committee of the RSDRP", often known by its Russian acronym Mezhrayonka, was an active group in Petrograd during the war which sought to overcome the divisions between the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions. Some of the most prominent Russian social-democrats associated with this group at this time were L D Trotsky, A V Lunacharsky and D Z Manuil'sky. After February 1917, the Mezhrayonka's position on the question of power - it favoured Soviet power - converged with that of the Bolsheviks under Lenin, and the two groups merged in July-August 1917. - FK]