Women and Solidarity. Where Did We Come From? Where Will We Go?

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stocznia kobiety

Even though women constituted majority among those who were engaged in democratic opposition in the 70s and 80s., their role in the process of democratic transition tends to be marginalized. Even though they played important roles in the underground opposition movement during the times of martial law and very often they organized work and led the underground structures of “Solidarity” they disappeared from public life after 1989. Since the late 90s women’s organizations and some historians made efforts to recognize women’s role and contribution into the fight for independence and democracy. A work by American historian Shana Penn “The Underground State of Women” was the first attempt to commemorate women’s engagement in the democratic opposition movement. It was followed by works by other authors such as Ewa Kondratowicz who published two books devoted to this topic and one of them included interviews made with women who were members of the underground “Solidarity” movement.

The documentary movie “Solidarity According to Women” by Marta Dzido and Piotr Śliwowski is a new attempt to recognize the efforts made by women to democratize Poland. On the one hand, it is a story about forgotten heroines of the “Solidarity” revolution and on the other it is their contemporary picture. The movie which supported by hbs Warsaw office was premiered in 2014 when Poland celebrated its 25th anniversary of democratic transition. It wasbe a good starting point to re-open discussion on women’s role and achievements before and after 1989.

The project involved of two parts:

  • HBS Warsaw Office supported première of the documentary movie on 6th December 2014;
  • HBS Warsaw Office organized a conference “Women and Solidarity. Where did we come from – where will we go?” on 2 June, 2014.

The conference addressed the issue of women’s engagement in the democratic opposition movement before 1989 and their impact on transition after 1989. It consisted of two panels: the first one will focus on Herstory and recognizing women’s place in history and the second one provided a more critical assessment of transition period and contemporary Poland. Dr Agnieszka Graff, a feminist writer, an author of bestseller “Świat bez kobiet” (The World Without Women”) gave an introductory speech.

11.00-11.10 – welcome

                        Irene Hahn-Fuhr, direktor of the Heinrich Böll Warsaw Office

                        Hanna Wróblewska, director of Zacheta – the National Gallery of Art

11.10-11.20 – trailer of the documentary movie „Solidarity According to Women” by Marta Dzido and Piotr Sliwowski

11.20 – 12.00 – introductory lecture of: dr Agnieszka Graff, American Studies Center, Warsaw University, „Political Critique”

12.00-13.30 – „Where Did We Come From? Recognizing Women’s Role in History” – panel discussion with participation of:

Shana Penn, author of books Sekret Solidarności and Podziemie kobiet, co-editor of Gender Politics and Everyday Life in State Socialist Eastern and Central Europe.

Ewa Kondratowicz, author of books Szminka na sztandarze and Być jak narodowy sztandar

Sylwia Chutnik, writer, feminist, Warsaw guide, author of books Kieszonkowy atlas kobiet and Warszawa kobiet

Marta Dzido, documentary movie direktor of Solidarity According to Women

Monika Kwiatkowska,  project „Metropolitanka”

Moderator: Anna Nowakowska-Wierzchoś, historian who works on the topic of women’s movement after 1945

13.30-14.30 – lunch

14.30-16.00 – „Where Will We Go? Contemporary Poland in the eyes of the female members of democratic opposition” – panel discussion with participation of:

                        Ewa Kulik-Bielińska, direktor of Stefan Batory Foundation, in 1977-1980 speaker of Students’ „Solidarity” Committee, member of Regional Executive Committee of „Solidarity” in Mazowsze Region, she co-built the nationwide center of underground “Solidarity” movement

                        Danuta Kuroń, social activist, member of democratic opposition, she built structures of underground „Solidarity” movement in Lublin Region

                        Małgorzata Tarasiewicz, member of the democratic opposition („Freedom and Peace” movement), in 1989-1991 coordinator of women’s section of „Solidarity”

                        Barbara Labuda, politician, member of democratic opposition, she built structures of underground „Solidarity” movement in Lower Silesia Region, in 1989-1997 member of the Polish Parliament

                        Moderator: Agnieszka Grzybek, coordinator of the regional program of Gender Democracy, Heinrich Böll Foundation