Here at Polandian we announced a series of posts about women in Poland and feminism. In the first episode we give the floor to an actual Polish woman and feminist.
Meet Katarzyna Hejna, who agreed to talk to us, over a cup of tea. She is a political science and sociology graduate. She works as a journalist, covering the economy and market.
Polandian: – You are a feminist. What does it mean?
Katarzyna Hejna: Of course I am! I can’t imagine it any other way. I imbibed feminism with my mother’s milk. [laughs]
It means that I respect the women, who only several years ago were knocking on Marshal Piłsudski’s door. Women who broke storefronts in England demanding rights. It means that I am aware that the situation of women in Poland and around the world is far from satisfactory. And that we are still on a worse starting position than men. But it also means that we, women – but also men – can change this.
– What are women’s main problems in Poland today?
There still is plenty of them. From such things as unemployment rate being much higher among women. Through women being silent victims of home violence, or sexual violence. To having no real influence on political decisions, especially at the top level. Women being treated with flippancy. And there’s the invisibility of lesbians in the public life.
Even though the Constitution of the Republic of Poland says that all citizens – men and women are equal in rights, it is not so. When we take a closer look at how our culture functions, how it determines us, and how it pushes women into narrow marginalising roles, it becomes clear that women in Poland are in a worse position. Our great-grandmothers secured themselves voting rights 90 years ago. A lot has changed since then. Our situation is far better than it used to be. However we still, Polish women today, should fight for a world, where one’s gender doesn’t determine what is achievable for them. People are all different, and stereotyping about what is “feminine” and what is “masculine” makes us not see or respect the whole richness of world and diversity of people. Girls are raised to be silent, nice and polite. Boys are raised to achieve, fight and show off. Why? This is a trap. It scares me and I want to change it. I don’t fit to the stereotypes. Too many people don’t fit to them.
– So do you try to change the situation of women in Poland? How?
I engage in pro-women, queer, and pro-freedom going-ons… All those which enlarge the space for people, which aim to question assigned roles… I talk a lot. With girls and guys, and explain: what gender and feminism are. But it gets frustrating: debunking myths, explaining things from feminist perspectives, answering the same questions and doubts all the time… What I like most is working with women, and for women. Doing a cultural festival, workshops, meetings. It sparks creativity and gives me a lot of energy. The most difficult thing is to change something in your own life, in yourself. To break the patriarchy within. To not be insecure speaking to a crowd. To talk strongly and make demands. To run for an office. To fight for oneself.
[Translated from Polish]