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ilstternational trends: are there female Political Elites in Poland? Elzbieta Sawa-Czajka //"¥ A Te finaUy have a free Poland with numerous political parties!"1 V Ir One of them, the Christian National Union believes that women between the Odra and Bug Rivers should bear unlimited numbers of chUdren and be imprisoned for any attempt to avoid the honorable duty of becoming a Polish mother. We can expect a similar attitude toward contraceptives along with a "gynecological" police force.2 Given this trend Polish women have to defend themselves against regressive poHtical ideas. Since 1944, an imposed Communist model in Poland mandated equal rights for women which consisted of the same right to work as men (though often for less pay), sole responsibility for running the household, and standing in endless sodaHst lines to acquire everything. In addition, Polish women were, especially in the state of martial law, the brave companions of conspirators which meant that, while the fathers of their children stayed in the underground, they kept the home fires burning. It is the efforts of these women that permitted the majority of contemporary parliamentary leaders to exist, act, and fight against Communism . Until now, only Zbigniew Bujak seems to remember this.3 Throughout the period of People's Poland there was only one organization concerned, at least in theory, with women's problems and that was the League of Women which was transformed during the twilight of Communism into the League of Polish Women. Successive leaders of this organization had entered various other national organizations, and under Communism, representatives of the League frequently condemned capitalism while praising socialism for the social emancipation of women, although the actual political situation did not deserve such self-congra tulation. A look at the Sejm (Diet) terms after 1944 shows that the number of women representatives varied between nineteen during the second term (4.1% of the total number of representatives), to 105 in the eighth term (23%).4 In the current Sejm there are forty-four women (9.6% of the total). This figure is important in marking the second lowest number of women representatives since 1944.5 At the same time it is noteworthy that the proportion between the number of women candidates running for office © 1996 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 8 No. 2 (Summer) 104 Journal of Women's History Summer and getting elected is very high which means that electors are choosing women. Both I. Sierakowska and Teresa Liszcz won in Lublin. Despite the fad that People's Poland had a Sejm, important political decisions were always made by the leadership of the Communist party. The participation of women at this level was episodic at best for beyond Zofia Grzyb, the "token" worker from Radom, there were no women of similar political status at the top. Grzyb actuaUy came from the leadership of the League of Women. We find no women with political authority during the Stalinist era, although there were some politically influential women such as JuHa Brystygier in the Ministry of PubHc Security (MBP) and Romana Granas in the Central Committee of the Communist Party (KC PZPR), as well as the formidable Wanda Gorska, aclministrative assistant to Boleslaw Bierut. These instances of individual power do not represent women's interests nor do they indicate that any political dérisions were undertaken with women's welfare or approval in mind. There were, of course, leading workers popularized by the media as examples of sodaHsm's equal opportunity. Women held posts at various levels of workers' coundls, in administrations, and in ministries; but they served in the lower echelons and very seldom became directors of departments or institutional administrators. Throughout the whole period of the PoHsh People's Commonwealth (PRL) a woman was never premier or vice-premier . Sometimes, particularly toward the end of the regime, women were permitted to be ministers of education and, occasionally, vice-ministers of culture or internal trade. The first Solidarity government had but three women who oversaw culture, health, and propaganda. Women also took over the leadership of the Polish National Bank, the government Plenipotentiary for Women and Families, and the Antimonopoly Office whose task it was to break up existing...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 103-110
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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