Gender, Voice, and Violence in Poland: Women’s Protests during the Pandemic

edited by Adrianna Zabrzewska & Joshua K. Dubrow

This book was funded by the National Science Centre, Poland (2016/23/B/HS6/03916)

In autumn 2020, as the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic began, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal issued a ruling that severely restricted access to abortion. Massive street protests, led by Strajk Kobiet (Women’s Strike), quickly followed.

This sourcebook presents the voices of activists, politicians, and academics on the 2020 protests in Poland after the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling. Sources include press conferences, interviews, public speeches, and parliamentary committees and debates, translated into English and commented on by Polish feminist scholars.

The book is designed to generate insights into the relationship between inequality, street protest, institutions, and violence, for use in research, teaching, journalism, and activism.

This is an open access book. You can download it here:

Gender, Voice, and Violence in Poland: Women’s Protests during the Pandemic

Table of Contents

Introduction: Gender, Voice, and Violence in Poland
Adrianna Zabrzewska and Joshua K. Dubrow

Part One: Timeline of Protests and Voices of Strajk Kobiet

Chapter 1: A Timeline of Women’s Strike Protests in Poland, October to December 2020
Natalia Zakrzewska and Joshua K. Dubrow
Chapter 2: Voices of Strajk Kobiet: Postulates, Plans, and Calls to Action

Part Two: Voices of Politicians

Chapter 3: Translator’s Introduction
Adrianna Zabrzewska
Chapter 4: Committee on Social Policy and Family, October 26, 2020
Chapter 5: Jarosław Kaczyński’s Speech, October 27, 2020
Chapter 6: 20th Session of the Sejm, October 28, 2020
Chapter 7: President Andrzej Duda’s Statement, October 30, 2020
Chapter 8: The Council of Ministers’ Statement, December 1, 2020
Chapter 9: Committee on Administration and the Interior, December 9, 2020
Chapter 10: Ministry of the Interior and Administration: Information on Police Action, December 9, 2020
Chapter 11: 23rd Session of the Sejm, December 16, 2020
Chapter 12: Andrzej Duda in Interview with Bogumił Łoziński (Gość Niedzielny), December 24, 2020
Chapter 13: Andrzej Duda in Interview with Krzysztof Skórzyński (TVN24), January 22, 2021

Part Three: Voices of Scholars

Chapter 14: The Fight for Women’s Rights Continues: Protests Against Abortion Restrictions in Poland
Karolina Gilas
Chapter 15: From Anguish to Anger: Struggle for Women’s Reproductive Rights in Poland
Elżbieta Korolczuk
Chapter 16: Tip of the Wave? New Forms of Intersectional Feminist Mobilizations in Poland
Magdalena Grabowska
Chapter 17: The 2020 Protests and the Lord-Boor Division in Poland: Intricacies of Challenging the Roman Catholic Church
Dorota Hall
Chapter 18: Gender, Body Politics, and State-Induced Violence: A Philosophical Analysis of Polish Politicians’ Responses to the 2020 Protests against the Abortion Ban
Adrianna Zabrzewska

About the Editors

Joshua K. Dubrow is a Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IFiS PAN), co-editor of the book Gender Quotas in the Post-Communist World: Voice of the Parliamentarians (IFiS Publishers, 2020), and has recently guest edited issues of the American Behavioral Scientist (2020) and the International Journal of Sociology (2021). He is PI of a National Science Centre, Poland grant (2016/23/B/HS6/03916) on political voice and inequality. He is an editor and writer at Occam’s Press.

Adrianna Zabrzewska is a Fulbright Scholar, translator, and feminist interdisciplinary researcher affiliated with the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences. She received her PhD in philosophy from the Graduate School for Social Research, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences. She published on Adriana Cavarero’s philosophy of voice (Teksty Drugie), feminist methodologies of children’s literature research (Avant), and gender in American and Polish children’s literature publishing (International Research in Children’s Literature, forthcoming). Dr. Zabrzewska is also the co-editor of Gender Quotas in the Post-Communist World (IFiS Publishers, 2020).

About the Contributors

Karolina Monika Gilas is an Associate Professor at the Political and Social Science Department of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). She holds a PhD in Political Science from UNAM and an MA in Political Science from the University of Szczecin (Poland). She is a member of the National System of Researchers (SNI), level I. Her research covers political representation (particularly of women and underrepresented groups), democracy, and elections. She is also a member of the “Observatorio de Reformas Políticas de América Latina” and director of the “Representación simbólica de las mujeres en América Latina” Project (UNAM). Before joining UNAM, she held senior advising positions at Mexico’s Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary. Member of the Red de Politólogas – #NoSinMujeres.

Magdalena Grabowska is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and the author of the book Broken Genealogy: Women’s Social and Political Activism Post 1945 and Contemporary Women’s Movement in Poland (in Polish; Scholar, 2018). She does research on history of women’s movement in Poland, sexual violence against women in Poland, and women’s political activism after 1989. She collaborated with various international institutions (including European Institute for Gender Equality and Fundamental Rights Agency), as well as with local governmental and non-governmental organizations (including Polish Association for Antidiscrimination Law, Federation on Women and Family Planning, and STER Foundation).

Dorota Hall is a cultural anthropologist and sociologist, Associate Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and President of the International Study of Religion in Eastern and Central Europe Association (ISORECEA). Her main study areas are religion and sexualities. In 2016, she published the book, Searching for a Place: LGBT Christians in Poland (in Polish; IFiS Publishers). She has also published in English in various academic journals and edited volumes.

Elżbieta Korolczuk is a sociologist, commentator, and women’s rights activist working at Södertörn University in Stockholm and at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw. She analyzes social movements, civil society, reproduction, and gender. Recent books include a co-authored volume, Bunt Kobiet. Czarne Protesty i Strajki Kobiet (European Solidarity Centre, 2019) and a monograph, Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Moment, with Agnieszka Graff (Routledge, 2021).

Natalia Zakrzewska received her MA in philosophy from the University of Warsaw and is currently a PhD candidate at the Graduate School for Social Research, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her research interests focus on the intersection of philosophy of mind, philosophy of technology, and Hegelian dialectics.