Congress of Women – a Strong Voice not only from the Ladies

Over five thousand people took part in two day workshops, discussion panels and sessions. Awards were given to Olga Tokarczuk and Jacek Jaskowiak

It was very colourful, noisy, diverse and very feminine in Poznan last weekend.  Representatives of rural centres and large cities came to the congress.  We had female volunteers who work in local communities and for feminist organisations. LGBT and ecologists were represented.  We had women fighting for the rights of the disabled and their carers as well as representatives of organisations working for the equality of the sexes.  One could visit the stands of the Green Activists and take part in a discussion about refugees and the attitude of our country to the refugee issues. There was a concert, dance and a choir performance, but most importantly, a resume of what has happened since the last congress and tributes to those who work for women’s causes.


There were female politicians; a strong voice of opposition to what is now taking place in Poland came from Joanna Mucha, Barbara Nowicka, Joanna-Scheuring-Wielgus, Anna Komorowska and Jolanta Kwasniewska.


Writer Olga Tokarczuk received the IX Congress of Women Prize, handed out by Barbara Nowacka from the Polish Initiative. – I know, this prize will be a surprise – said Nowacka.  Earlier, this award has mainly been awarded to people linked to politics, this time it will be a little different. This is because the award goes not to a deserving feminist, female politician, a mother of female movements.  The laureate is a woman who lives in the country.  Who loves animals, which unites us all.  Who detests hunters, who picks herbs.  She has a third eye, so she sees what others don’t see. A witch. A person of word.

Robert Biedron, president of Slupsk, gave out the Diversity Prize to the president of the hosting city – Jacek Jaskowiak. – He doesn’t wish to exclude anyone, he takes part in equality parades, he meets the faithful of various churches, even muslims  – said Biedron – he doesn’t approve of football hooliganism. He stood up to the Minister of Culture and he did not call off the curator of the Malta Festival, that Mr Glinski didn’t like. He organised a pitch for the role and eventually appointed the deputy for the work against exclusion and discrimination. – I am very proud of my president of the city – told us Krystyna Stachowiak, member of KOD Wielkopolska, also represented at the Congress, – His help to organise the Congress was key to the success of this event, because our meeting is very different from those which took place in the capital. – But to me, meetings with women are most important – continues Stachowiak. – I particularly value the panels and meetings devoted to the problems of the contemporary Poland. Of course, for me as a KOD member, most important are protests against cutting down forests or educational deform, served to us by Zalewska.  Backstage meetings with my colleagues from KOD or other organisations and ladies who came here from various parts of Poland are also important. However, I was most moved by the talks with the girls whom I met at Solidarity in the eighties. As Henryka Krzywonos and I agreed (in the photo together), we are delighted that now these young women with colourful hair or tattoos are taking our place in the fight for the rights of the citizens of my country.


Katarzyna Wyszomiersika


Declaration of the IX general Polish Congress of Women

We, the women gathered at the General Polish Congress of Women in Poznan, declare our will to continue to fight for the rights of women and to fulfil the demand for equality, without which no community can be free and fair.  We continually and with the strong determination demand respect for our autonomy and recognition of our reproductive rights, we demand decisive action  against violence which means putting into practice the Convention of the Council of Europe for the prevention of domestic violence, we demand workable social policy which does not exclude women from the employment market and pensions, we demand parities in politics and in economy, we demand education which is modern and free from discrimination, we demand equal pay for equal work, we demand the acknowledgement of the rights of LGTB persons, we demand the end of devastation of nature, we demand adequate support for women bringing up disabled children and for single mothers, we demand effective execution of alimonies.  We also demand equality of treatment, equality of freedom, equality of opportunities and possibilities. At the same time, we are conscious that none of our demands may be fulfilled in a country that does not respect the fundamental standards of democracy. Today we therefore demand independent courts of law, free media, respect for The Constitution and the rule of law. We also declare the will to initiate and support for any initiatives for the strengthening of the position of Poland in the European Union and for taking Poland out of the isolation in which the country finds itself now.  Poland has to be a European country and not a country ‘on the outskirts’, Poland must look forward to the future, not look back to the past, must be the country of people equal in their rights and not a country of exclusion and oppression.  We want to be free and equal in a democratic Poland, a part of equable Europe.


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