Putin's Women's Day: Tradition Over Feminism Reminder

Putin's Address Sparks Debate on Women's Roles

by Zain ul Abedin
Putin's Women's Day: Tradition Over Feminism Reminder
© Omer Messinger/Getty Images

In a recent message commemorating International Women's Day, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered remarks that seemed to misinterpret the essence of the occasion. During a video statement issued last Friday, Putin encouraged women to prioritize motherhood, stating that regardless of a woman's professional achievements or career choices, "the bearing of children" represents nature's most significant gift to them.

This perspective starkly contrasts with the original intent of International Women's Day, which aims to foster a world of gender equality and celebrate women's accomplishments across the globe, rather than focusing solely on their role in procreation.

Putin's comments are particularly noteworthy given the historical significance of Russian women in the early advocacy and establishment of International Women's Day. The official campaign site credits Russian women's peace campaigns before World War I and their consequential strike for "Bread and Peace" in 1917 - which played a crucial role in precipitating the Tsar's abdication and securing women's suffrage - as pivotal moments in the history of March 8th being designated to honour this day.

Motherhood as Priority

Despite these contributions, Putin's recent message highlighted motherhood as a woman's most laudable achievement, overshadowing their "beauty, wisdom, and generosity." He described motherhood as a "glorious and critically important mission" that brings "joy and happiness," asserting that family remains paramount for women irrespective of their external successes.

Furthermore, Putin emphasized the centrality of family and the perpetuation of generations through respect and consideration for women and motherhood, which he considers integral to Russian traditions. Although he did acknowledge the contributions of women currently serving in the conflict in Ukraine, his call to women to focus on childbirth is not new.

In a previous statement last November, he advocated for women to have eight or more children to "preserve" traditional values, citing population growth as a critical objective for Russia, especially in light of the significant military casualties reported since the onset of the Ukraine conflict, with estimates suggesting up to 315,000 Russian soldiers have been lost according to the latest CIA reports.