We should never forget Pasha Angelina (Praskovia Nikitichna Angelina). The story goes that after the first collectivisation wave, in 1933 Pasha organised an all-female tractor brigade in the Donetsk region. It exceeded its quota by 129%, producing more than any other team in their region. She became a new labour hero: young, strong, enthusiastic, from an ethnic minority.
Invited to the Kremlin, elected to the supreme soviet of the USSR, organiser of even more women’s tractor teams, winner of the Stalin Prize in 1946 … still, she preferred to drive tractors. As this article puts it, she became a symbol what might now be called Soviet feminism – except that by now such feminism was almost half a century old.
There is even some rare footage of Pasha at the Kremlin, with Stalin and the others.
You can watch it here, with subtitles, or watch this compilation news item:
Of course, there’s a down side to all of this. Her husband didn’t know how to relate to a strong woman, eventually leaving and drowning his sorrows in vodka (any excuse, really). And a lifetime working with tractor fuels and oils destroyed her body’s ability to clear the toxins, so she died at 46.