Alexandra Kollontai (March 31 1872 – 9 March 1952) was an active socialist and fighter for women’s rights in Russia from 1899. A member of the Russian Social Democatic and Labour Party who was at first independent of the factions, she joined the Bolsheviks in 1915. The only woman member of the Bolshevik central committee, she also served as Commissar of Welfare of the Soviet Republic and head of the Women’s Section of the Bolshevik Party.
After the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917 Kollontai became People’s Commissar for Social Welfare and founded the Zhenotdel or “Women’s Department” in 1919. In the first days of soviet power, this worked to improve the conditions of women’s lives in the Soviet Union, fighting illiteracy and educating women about the new marriage, education, and working laws put in place by the Revolution.
In 1923, she was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Norway, becoming the world’s second female ambassador in modern times. She later served as Ambassador to Mexico (1926–27) and Sweden (1930–1945) and was also a member of the Soviet delegation to the League of Nations.
Kollontai and Zetkin between them were between them largely responsible for establishing IWD and its international significance came out of the Russian Revolution.