Poland - Statement Of Women's Groups From Gdansk On The 30th Anniversary Of SOLIDARITY
The feminine side of "Solidarity" is often neglected and it makes us speak up for those, who have no place in the masculine myth of "Solidarity".
Statement of Women's Groups from Gdańsk on the 30th Anniversary of Solidarity
Women, who are worthy of our memory
„ Solidarity” was not created as a result of the lone fight of a few men. It was the outcome of the collective effort of many people, both men and women. In August 1980 women played a crucial role in initiating free trade unions, they worked in strike committees, they publicly and courageously demonstrated their convictions and support for „Solidarity”. Alina Pienkowska and Anna Walentynowicz averted the looming collapse of the strike by exhausted workers in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk. After „Solidarity” was delegalized many women were repressed and arrested. Some, who were abroad, started working for supporting the opposition in Poland, set up organizations and groups for that purpose.
While men often gave the name and face for those groups, it was the women who did the tedious work. Sometimes the rule of men was just a facade and the women were real decision makers. However, there are few female names among the signatories of statements and resolutions. They were not eager to do that and often their identity was not known. When gradually „Solidarity” started to move to the level of power, women were more and more pushed into oblivion. By the Round Table negotiations there was only one chair reserved for a woman representing „Solidarity”.
Women's rights were not included in the spectrum of rights that „Solidarity” was fighting for. The energy of women as conscious citizens was stifled or even rejected. The Polish democracy is of male gender. The feminine side of „Solidarity” is often neglected and it makes us speak up for those, who have no place in the masculine myth of „Solidarity”.
1. To include the stories of women who were active in „Solidarity” in the mainstream of the anniversary celebrations and consult them with women's groups in Gdańsk.
2. To assign a space in the new European Solidarity Center for a section dealing with women in the Polish political opposition and to honor the great role of women in the process of political and systemic transformation in Poland.
3. To inspire and finance research on the implementation of women's rights during and after the transformation of 1989.
4. To organize a permanent exhibition in European Solidarity Center, as well as worthy temporary exhibitions on the role of women in the movement. To collect and secure documents pertaining to women in „Solidarity” and other freedom movements. This would only be fair and do justice to the main principle of the Center, which states that it is important „to protect from forgetting and preserve everything that was experienced by the members of 10 million participants social movement, a phenomenon called „Solidarity”.
5. To educate about women in the opposition and use modern technologies for that purpose.
Demokratyczna Unia Kobiet (Democratic Union of Women)
Fundacja wspierania Kobiet
Koło Naukowe Gender przy Uniwersytecie Gdańskim (Gender Studies, Gdansk University)
Network of East-West Women/NEWW Polska
Partia Kobiet, Pomorze (Women's Party, Pomerania)
Trójmiejska Akcja Kobiet (Tri-City Women's Action)
Network of East-West Women/NEWW-Polska Letter to Mr. Paweł Adamowicz, President of Gdansk Gdansk, 29 July, 2010 Dear Mr. President, Respectfully, Malgorzata Tarasiewicz Director, NEWW/NEWW-Polska
We are close to the 30th anniversary of the memorable events of August 1980. Nobody questions the utmost significance of those events in Gdańsk from 30 years ago for the public life in Poland. What happened then was a collective effort of the people of Tri-City with the support of the whole nation, with no regard to gender. After we have reviewed the program of the celebrations we are sorry to say that there is not enough care and attentiveness as to the role and input of women in the work of political opposition in those days.
Women were actively involved in every phase and every current of the Polish freedom and anti-communist movement, in the strikes in August 1980 and later on in creating democratic base in the new Polish state. Their input is undeniable and without them there would be no achievements of this magnitude. It should be enough to mention the names of Anna Walentynowicz, Alina Pienkowska, Henryka Krzywonos, Jadwiga Chmielowska, Anastazja Konieczna, Ewa Kubasiewicz, Ewa Ossowska, Joanna Szczęsna, Jadwiga Chmielowska, Ewa Ossowska, Ewa Tomaszewska, Wiesława Kwiatkowska, Zofia Kwiatkowska – Dublaszewska, Anna Niszczak, Jolanta Wilgucka, Marianna Samlik, Elżbieta Mossakowska. There are many more as evidenced in the book „Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland” by American author Shana Penn, by Ewa Kondratowicz in her „Lipstick on the Banner”, by Anna Baszanowska in „A Shadow from the Future” as well as the movie by Piotr Zarembski „The Prisoners”.
We are profoundly convinced that you will share our opinion and make some steps to appropriately honor the women during the celebrations of August 80. It is our heart's desire that the European Solidarity Center newly established by the authorities in Gdansk will assign a space for women to educate, conduct research, to honor and to celebrate their role. We also hope that you will personally engage in this worthy action. Many women, whose actions are worthy of commemorating by the people of Gdansk and the whole nation would welcome this. It would only do them historical justice.
Network of East-West Women/NEWW-Polska
Letter to Mr. Paweł Adamowicz, President of Gdansk
Gdansk, 29 July, 2010
Dear Mr. President,