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The Summer Academy of Congress of Women - the power was there!

Added: 8 sierpnia 2017

This year's  Summer Academy has ended successfully. It was the fifth edition of very engaging workshops, meetings, discussions, and other social activities for women.

For the first time it took place in the greater Poland Voideship - a friendly and pro-integration environment.  Almost 50 women from the whole Poland, not divided by their believes and political opinions, concern about their age (20+ to 70) and profession took part in a series of lectures about the solidarity of women (also in politics), ecofeminism, leadership, herstory, gender, public activity, self-government elections, debating, autopresentation and image creation in the Internet, and some more. Throughout 3 rounds we gather 22 lecturers, among others: 

prof. Małgorzata Fuszara, Dorota Warakomska, Ewa Woydyłło, Małgorzata Okońska-Zaremba, Bianka Siwińska, Małgorzata Tkacz-Janik and Marta Lempart. During all the courses Joanna Piotrowska was leading a Wendo training (assertiveness and self-defense) and also some less formal meetings with our hostesses (women's rights activists, female parliamentarians from our side, local governors). 

Summer Academy also provides physical activity (Nordic walking) and late evening integration, with a fire place sometimes. It is about networking and empowering. Incredible energy that the participants took along when going back to their regions. Knowledge, new contacts and relations, that for certain will  benefit  in building women's solidarity and activity for women and our rights. 

 

And why do we need to do an activism for women's rights?  Why they do it? 

Here you can find some of the opinions of the participants of the Summer Academy of Congress of Women 2017:

 

 Katarzyna Lisiecka

(Warszawska Kooperatywa Spożywcza, Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej)

Since a long time I have a feminist standing point, but only in the last years I feel stronger that I should be more engaged in speaking out about women's discrimination in socio-political life, and also take actions with others to repair this absurd situation. I think that as women we oftentimes forget about this injustice and we even disregard it. And this is a big, unsolved problem of ours, but also of the entire society that suffers from it. 'Magical' thinking of many women goes like: 'I will be excellent so they will appreciate me regardless of my sex" - sometimes works, although most of the times is failing. 

We tolerate that ambitious women have to work harder to advance in social structures. We tolerate economic dependence of women from men. 

We can’t counteract those threats in this matter. We doubt our grounds to speak about it, shouldn’t we be saying that women do not get what they should? - equal chances. But we are important. And we are needed. Why then are we marginalised? Why do we need to work more for lower wedges? Why our representative - democracy - prefers men?  To those questions we shall answer directly. 

This year SACW was for me a time when I finally construct those answers, and on top of that I participated of a real community/sisterhood of smart, emphatic women with life and work experience, with will to act for a change. It was an incredible experience for me. 

 

Beata Siemaszko

(Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet)

Sometime ago I was getting mad hearing comments like: 'Who’s had seen girls climbing trees?!, or 'how does it look like for a girl to have such bruised knees?!' Later, as a married women, after days with no rest, I was hearing - serve a dinner to your husband, he just came from work. 

I was always rebelling and it was never understood. Ages ago women got squeezed into a tight niche of home-hard-work , and there was no escape from there, for a long time. 

Thanks to feminists, our universe is slowly expanding. Until quite recently I used to think that it will be continuously getting better. 

However, it turns out that rights are not being given once and for all. 

Something that we got with an enormous effort, we can easily lose. I am tired of proving constantly that I am not less worthy than men, because I am not. 

I disagree for being treated differently and I engage with other women that feel the same. That male universe will not find power enough to rule us.

 

Agata Kobylińska

(Dziewuchy Dziewuchom  from Lódź, EduKABE)

I was a women's rights activist before Dziewuchy activated their powers. I was cooperating (project based) with organisations — for example, with Femioteka at 'Antyprzemocowa Sieć Kobiet' (‘Anti-violent Network of Women’) — and also I was analysing educational kindergarten's textbooks in terms of gender. There was a necessity of a 'bomb' (I speak of the attempts to restrict the law) that would wake the society up and move women to act. Why we, Dziewuchy from Łódź, have such a local effectiveness? Because we take women's voice in consideration for real. They have come to us and realised that we are not just going to organise marches and shout and protest, but that we do give them a voice. I know what is important from my work experience with a NGO, with my EduKABE, where we have contact with youth and children and ask them what they think about various topics.

We, in Dziewuchy, ask women: 'What do you think on that topic?', 'Which help do you need?', and that's why those feminist rostrum of Dziewuchy have such an impact. In May we organised Mother's March, to underline how important they are for us. In our main group we have one pregnant woman and one mother of a 4 years old girl. We made an open, organisational meeting with mothers and those postulates that we presented later at the march were their voices and not our assumptions. This is what brings effectiveness. 

Lately we can also observe activation of mature women. On our rostrum they could finally speak out. They could see that someone wants to listen to their stories — to their everyday challenges. Once they have spoken, and after the event is over, we do not leave them alone without anything. 

We put cooperations with NGOs higher than cooperations with political organisations. On our marches we have a lot of experts as speakers that work for NGOs on a daily base. So when speaking of violence against women, we choose a speaker in contact with those who experienced it. 

Reproductive law is important: our position is clear and we support its liberation, but it is not the only message — as women have so many problems in various spheres of life. We give them the space to share opinions and that's how we build local effectiveness. We have lots of signals from Poland and other countries that our actions are visible because we start from the basics. That's why we are interested in education, in teaching young girls to be strong and confident, and boys to support that. It is about treating both sexes, because working with for example: only girls - will just not work out.  

Wendo (training), one of our colleagues prepared a project in her company and thanks to that we got funds for Wendo. 24 girls selected among us got the training. 

Marches and protests are the most spectacular, but small actions are also important, like Wendo or 'The Revolutionary Cinema of Women' where we have had screened the documentary „Kobieta bez przestrzeni“. There were no queues, but it doesn't matter. Even if only two people will have an 'ahaa’ moment after seeing it and will approach us to cooperate with us, it has a priceless value. 

Doing further plans now. The Transatlantyk Festiwal will take place in Łódź with various film shows, including the screening of a series called "the power of women".

We will participate in this event, give workshops for seniors and mothers with children — as these groups are present at the time of the day this event takes place. In this type of bottom-up initiatives, education is what matter the most. It is not just about saying that it is bad, we want to show what to do to make it better.     

I have observed girls being socialised in a specific way for many years — to be weaker, more submissive.

This situation, the attempt to restrict reproductive law , demonstrated  the power of women — showing their solidarity and will to act in the name of a common goal.

And now we need to do all, not to lose this potential, and reach women through bottom-up initiatives and educational events, for them to want to make changes. We don’t change a particular child or person, but we can advice a women what she can do to raise her daughter. Not to tell her that anger would make her beauty go away. To allow her to splash water in the rain, to get dirty and wet, or to climb a tree. To activate her to do science, or anything she would like to do. Because she has the right to do it. 

For girls to be stronger, more open in future, and to approach politics. For them to kill those numbers of disproportions in decisive groups. To educate those that were resentful, to do something for their own courtyard. I think that's the key to success. And not be standing out on the street shouting all the time. Because after a time people get used to it and stop paying attention to what is happening. I think, we will reach better effectiveness by bottom up initiatives. But I am thankful for what has happened, as It has waken up the civil society in us. That is one of the most positive things that has happened. 

 

Aleksandra Knapik

(Dziewuchy Dziewuchom  from Lódź)

It all started with the disagreement with the proposed law that would restrict the abortion law. We started to act in order to mobilise women to protest, to give them an opportunity to express their opinion, their disagreement for what was about to happen. Later on we extended our activism to education — we filled in a gap in a local society.  In Łodz for instance, there is a Women's rights Centre (Centrum Praw Kobiet) that works for women that experienced and are experiencing violence, but it was missing an educational program to increase awareness and empower women. Likewise, a program showing women that their opinions and actions matter. That’s what was implemented by our feminist speech platforms, from which women were sharing their stories. 

It was oftentimes their first chance to publicly speak out, first time to confront their stories with stories of other women and to feel that they are not alone with their feelings. 

Nowadays and besides everything, it is necessary to politicly activate people and to go to vote, to choose, for women to be aware, that their voice matters. 

First speech platforms/ rostrums (they were 4 all together) were about reproductive law, other topics came along later. Experts - psychologists, scientists, activists, lawyers —- gave short preselections. One, for example, was about violence. They spoke about the problem from their own perspective, but an important element of the event was also the ‘Hyde Park’ (internet forms), when women asked questions, and commented. And that all happened in a relaxed cafe-bar atmosphere. You could come with children, for a coffee, tea… Girls were standing up and speaking about their experiences. 

Besides that all, we, Dziewuchy, started to be well networked with other organisations. We joined and started to propagate actions. For example: charitable, with Centrum Praw Kobiet, Fabryka Równości, Fundations of EduKABE, W człowieku Widzieć Brata. And others.  We prepared for instance a Christmas package for one family that is living under protection in the Centrum Praw Kobiet. We collected clothes, household objects, but also food. We also bought a laptop for them. In other actions, we were collecting funds for immigrants and homeless people, and hygienic materials for female prisoners.

We activated ourselves in April last year and we keep on activating other women. We have different experiences, different professions —- myself, so far, had never used my professional experience for an activism… until I wrote a social project to HPV for girls from Łódź, where I made use of my expertise for first time.  

 

BATCH COURSE I - THE GALLERY

BATCH COURSE II - THE GALLERY

BATCH COURSE III - THE GALLERY

 

 

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