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510 SHISHKINA-IAVEIN, Poliksena Nestorovna (1875–1947) Russian physician, feminist activist and, until 1918, leader of the Rossiiskaia Liga Ravnopraviia Zhenshchin (Russian League for Women’s Equal Rights) with connections to the international women’s movement. Poliksena Shishkina was born in Nikolaev in April 1875. Her father, Nestor Shishkin, was a musical military conductor and took part in the Russian–Turkish war (1875–1878). Her mother (data unknown ) was from a family of Ukrainian gentry. Poliksena had six brothers, all of whom received higher education: Nikolai (an engineer); Sergei; Zakhar; Grigorii; Vasilii (a military officer) and a sixth (name unknown). In 1900, while studying at the St Petersburg Women’s Medical Institute, Poliksena Shishkina married Georgi Iulievich Iavein (1863–1920), a professor at the MedicalSurgical Academy in St Petersburg. They had two children: a daughter Alla (1902) and a son Igor (1903). Poliksena Shishkina was among the first to graduate from the St Petersburg Women’s Medical Institute in 1904. Shishkina-Iavein belonged to the third generation of feminist activists in the Russian women’s movement. Members of this generation, born at the end of the 1860s and the early 1870s, were the first women to succeed in politics, in spite of coming from mostly non-noble families. Among them were Ariadna Tyrkova, Sophia Panina, Anna Miliukova, Elena Stasova, Aleksandra Kollontai, Nadezhda Krupskaia and Inessa Armand. Those among them who were Social Democrats, such as Stasova, Kollontai, Krupskaia and Armand, had the possibility to become government leaders. Those whose political careers had developed along liberal lines were displaced from the political stage with the revolutionary events of 1917. The achievements and popularity of Poliksena Shishkina-Iavein were connected with the Liga Ravnopraviia Zhenshchin (League for Women’s Equal Rights). The Liga was established in March 1907 on the basis of the Soiuz Ravnopraviia Zhenshchin (Women’s Equal Rights Union, 1905–1907) to promote political and civil rights for women. Shishkina-Iavein became the Liga’s Chair in 1910 at a difficult time for the movement. The popular feminist magazine Soiuz Zhenshchin (Union of women)— 511 printed in St Petersburg from 1907–1909 by former activists of the Soiuz—closed down after the Soiuz had disbanded in 1907, and after political disagreements (over the primacy of Marxist theory and the need for feminists to ally themselves with the Left) broke out among members of the journal’s editorial board. Mariia Chekhova—the former editor and Chair of the Soiuz and of the Liga (1907–1910)—left St Petersburg for Moscow disappointed and tired. At the same time, the vigorous campaigns of Russian feminists for universal suffrage (for all men and women)—organized by the highly political Soiuz and coordinated in part with revolutionary groups—had not achieved the anticipated results. Women’s equality was not an agenda supported by the wider population. Like the Soiuz, the Liga desired political rights for all but when Shishkina-Iavein became Chair of the Liga and the issue of feminist participation in a left-wing coalition was raised once again, the general conclusion was that the women’s movement needed to become an independent political force, capable of defining its own strategic goals, developing its own theory and elaborating its own methods of struggle. It was at this time (1910), that the Liga began to emphasize a more specific goal than that of universal democracy (the principle that had informed the activities of the Soiuz) and sought to exclusively represent the political and economic interests of women. As Chair of the Liga, Shishkina-Iavein was directly involved in initiating the change of policy and she made the pursuit of women’s suffrage a fundamental goal of the organization . She also encouraged the publishing and educational activities of the Liga. Numbers of members grew from 219 (in 1910) to 1,235 (in 1915). New branches were opened in Tomsk and Ekaterinburg. Since Shishkina-Iavein considered legislative activity the only way to achieve social change, the Council of the Liga focused on the actions of the State Duma (Parliament). All bills submitted to the Duma were subjected to scrutiny for gender inequities by the Liga, and the organization directed inquiries, protests and other feedback to the State Duma when laws looked set to negatively affect women’s interests. Most Russian feminists avoided class distinctions, considering themselves to be working on behalf of all women. Thus, in 1910, the Liga directed a petition to the Gosudarstvennyi Sovet (the Upper Chamber of Parliament) protesting a government bill on land...


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