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Klementyna Suchanow
Klementyna Suchanow ©Ania Liesting

Polish Women

Women’s protests in Poland are voices of hope

Klementyna Suchanow (47), Polish writer, editor and activist

“I got involved in the women’s protests in 2016 and joined the Polish Women’s Strike. The reason was that I realized that my daughter, who was 13 at the time, was growing up in a country that became more hoistile to women than in communist Poland where i grew up. Contraception was readily available, abortion was legal. I also wished my daughter such a free Poland. But with PiS in power, more and more rights were and are being deprived of women. Even the right to self-determination of their own bodies, such as contraception and abortion.

On October 3, 2016, I took to the streets for the first time, along with thousands of other women. I will never forget that day. It rained from early in the morning until late at night, I was soaked. But the joint struggle and solidarity of so many women made up for everything. My daughter went with me that day and was shocked when she saw me. I normally work as an editor and author in a quiet environment. But that day I stood in the street screaming, I made my voice heard. My daughter was not used to that. She said: ‘Mom, why you’re screaming?’. I understood she was ashamed of me. But several years later, she was standing side by side with me on the street and screaming just as loud.

I’ve been traumatized, I’ve been arrested, I’ve been beaten up by militant men. Would I do it again? Yes!

I have had to make sacrifices for my struggle on the street. I’ve been traumatized, I’ve been arrested, I’ve been beaten up by militant men. Would I do it again? Yes! The women’s protests have caused a change of mentality in Poland. Taking to the streets to protest, especially by women, was unprecedented in Poland. We have done it and show that it is possible, that it has an effect. I see more and more young girls at the protests. It’s about their future. The women’s protests in Poland are voices of hope. I also see more and more women standing on the barricades and speaking out against the policies of the Polish government. Women who lead protest actions, give interviews, present themselves in the media. Previously, this was only reserved for men. We women have taken over that role. The nature of the protests has also changed. What started as women’s protests has grown into protests against government policies. It has become much broader, with more men participating. It is no longer just about women’s issues, but also about, for example, the position of LGBTI+ people and the judiciary in our country. Everyone is welcome to join, but women are leading the protests. We make the decisions, we chart the course.

I wrote the book ‘To jest wojna Kobiety fundamentaliści i nowe średniowiecze’. That means: ‘This is War. Women, Fundamentalists and the New Middle Ages’. It is a book that I would rather not have written, because the subject is not nice. But I finally did it. For several years now, we have been observing how the world and reality around us is changing, especially at the expense of women. You see regimes with dangerous medieval ideas in several countries, including Poland. In the book I describe the dark, fundamentalist trend and show who stands behind it. It is the story of the international network of strange organizations linked with the Kremlin and at the same time it’s about the women’s response, the feminist resistance. The female body has become the battlefield of a great political game for the fate of the world. I warn against that. The feminists used to say: women’s rights are a political issue. Today women’s rights have become a geopolitical issue.”

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