The 4th Congress of Women took place on 14th and 15th September 2012 in the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, with the motto Activity, Entrepreneurship, Independence. Almost 10,000 participants registered and 7,500 attended the Congress. There were five plenary sessions held at the Congress Hall together with 20 parallel panels, 3 round tables, 7 workshops, and one debate. A number of different topics
were raised, including the success of women, family business, planned parenthood,
nursery care, education reform, violence against women, new energy sources, culture,
and woman leadership.
PRIME MINISTER VERSUS POSTULATES
– The conversation about the women rights is also a conversation about how to lead Poland and European Union out of the crisis – said Prime Minister Donald Tusk, special guest of the 4th Congress of Women. He ensured that the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women is halfway in the ratification process and in the polish version there are also additional regulations on hate speech and social roles. He also added that the project of new law on ex officio prosecution of rape is already in parliament. The prime minister ensured, that this legal act will guarantee safety for women not only when it comes to legal regulations, but also in practice: - We will parallelly work on eliminating wrong procedures, lack of delicacy of the administration of justice so as to not allow them to rehumiliation of women during investigation.
Prime Minister Tusk agreed also that quotas on the electoral lists need to be accompanied by the zipper system and he promised that a proper project will be prepared. He also referred to the issue of quotas in managements by declaring, for now evolutionary changes. – During next 3-5 years we will focus on report enforcement and looking for the reasons of discrimination –he declared. Prime minister stayed to take pictures with volunteers.
4th CONGRESS, 3 AWARDS
The culmination point of the gala was award ceremony during which 3 awards of the Congress of Women were given. Laureate of the annual Award of the Congress of Women, previously given to Olga Krzyżanowska, Henryka Krzywonos-Strycharska and prof. Maria Janion, was Barbara Labuda. She was an activist of antitotalitarian opposition, connected to Workers’ Defense Committee (KOR) and Solidarity movement. She was sentenced to 1, 5 year of prison for her political activity. She initiated the Parliamentary Group of Women and co-founded Democratic Union. – Barbara was not invited to participate in the Polish Round Table, because she was a woman. She always repeated: the rights of women are almost the most important of all, and the most important decisions are made in parliaments. That is why instead of grumbling it’s worth to be there – said Olga Krzyżanowska during emotional laudation for her colleague.
– The world doesn’t need us to humiliate ourselves and talk about the reality worse than it is. Let’s tell the truth about ourselves. Let’s talk good about ourselves! – Barbara Labuda appealed from the scene. She also underlined that one of the greatest values of the Congress of Women is collective leadership, which is based on emotional intelligence, sensitivity and ability to cooperate which are top features needed most urgently by the economy nowadays.
This year also a man was awarded by the Congress for the first time and it has begun a new series of awards for men. The award is dedicated to a manager, who devotedly introduces the diversity management in his company. This year’s laureate was the President of Warsaw Stock Exchange, Ludwik Sobolewski. In our modern and democratic society equal treatment should be something obvious, but it is not. Our candidate understood that it is not only fair but also effective in an economical sense. – said Henryka Bochniarz. Ludwik Sobolewski thanked for the award and ensured that the capital market in Poland will be an ally of the Congress of Women: – We create an organization that wants to work more efficiently. That is why we assign the most responsible functions to women, as well as to men.
The second award was the Special Distinction of the Congress of Women, which was also given for the first time. The laureate was Plenipotentiary of the Congress of Women in Warmia and Masuria region and vice chairwoman of „Serce za Uśmiech” association from Elblag, Jadwiga Król. Magdalena Środa introduced the laureate – She is always ready to move the city and the region if she thinks that the cause is worth it. She rarely uses the word ‘me’, it’s always ‘us’. About her friends she says ‘my necessities’ and about politics ‘it doesn’t bite, it governs’. Król’s mantra could easily be: ‘if we don’t want to be ruled, we have to rule ourselves’.
FOUR CONGRESSES ARE BETTER THAN ONE
To sum up Dorota Warakomska presented the results of the survey which was conducted among the participants of the Congress of Women. Over 90% of participants of the 4th Congress of Women support parity in politics (50% of women and 50% of men on the electoral lists and on the first two positions of the lists) and gender quotas in company managements (a defined minimal number of women and men in company managements). Kinga Rusin, who accompanied her on stage diplomatically noticed that less men performing public functions attended the Congress, presumably because of the last years’ pre-election period.
Magdalena Środa thanked participants and panelists for exceptionally high level of debates. She also announced new educational initiatives of the Congress of Women Association and a Summer School. She encouraged submitting local initiatives. – The Congress of Women is not only a two-day, annual chance for debate. It is also everyday activity in the regions – she gave the examples of Lubusz, Lublin and Greater Poland Voivodshps, where the local congresses will take place this year.
74-year-old DJ Wika, the oldest dj in Poland honored the closing ceremony of the 4th Congress of Women with her performance. She appealed from the stage: – Doing something we like and we’re good at should be a regular thing no matter what age. We can be limited by the sickness or lack of power, but not age.
At the end Magdalena Środa admitted that only the space limits size of the debates. She also revealed that the Congress has already made some attempts to organize the International Congress of Women on the National Stadium. It looks like the Congress took the words of Ludwik Sobolewski seriously and is on a good way to become as effective organizations as Polish Football Association.
POSTULATES OF THE 4th CONGRESS OF WOMEN
We still have a couple of postulates! Almost none is implemented, therefore:
1. We demand to set up and finance a network of rural centres for education and culture.
2. We demand institutional care for small children and advocacy for equal participation of both parents in childcare.
3. We demand quick and unconditional ratification of the European Council Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
4. We demand quick introduction of parity and “zipper placement” of men and women on electoral lists.
5. We demand 40% quotas in management and boards of directors of publically
listed companies as proposed by the European Commission.
6. We demand (constantly) elimination of gender stereotypes from school curricula and textbooks.
7. We demand effective monitoring, educational and legislative actions for eliminating the gender wage gap.
8. We demand (constantly and firmly) recognition of the full right to decide about one’s own life (the liberalisation of abortion laws, refunding of in vitro fertilization, free contraception, sexual education in schools).
9. We demand quick iimplementation of the
convention on people with disabilities and granting disability pensions to the disabled rather than.
10. We demand effective programmes for fostering professional activity of women in the light of increasing the retirement age.