Women’s Day in Poland

During Communist times, Women’s Day was a socialist-political holiday, first observed in Russia after the October Revolution in 1917. However, the holiday has deeper roots, as the first International Women’s Day was organized in the U.S. on Feb. 28, 1909, by the Socialist Party of America. One of the first occurrences of Women’s Day in Europe was on March 8, 1913, just before of World War I, when women across the continent held protests for peace. In both the U.S. and Western Europe, the holiday was observed until the late 1920s, when it fell out of popularity, to be revived by the feminist movement during the 1960s.

Currently IWD is observed in a large number of countries throughout the world and is enjoying increasing popularity. Traditionally on Women’s Day in Poland, women receive flowers, stockings and chocolates from the various men in their lives (students, coworkers, husbands, boyfriends, employees, etc.).

However, Manifa, the feminist celebration, is more about expressing power and being visible as strong women. Feminists (of all genders) bring public attention to a number of relevant issues, including abortion, lesbian rights, transgender rights, equal pay and unpaid domestic work. Every year in Krakow, the organizers of Manifa present a list of postulates to the public and the media. They highlight issues of particular concern, which feminists believe are neglected the rest of the year by the government, politicians, the media, and are generally excluded from public discourse.

Today, March 7, in preparation for Saturday’s march there will be a “warm-up” party in Kawiarnia Naukowa (ul. Jakuba 29). Those interested have been encouraged to bring materials to make posters and banners for the march. In addition to the march and concert on Saturday, a contest for a new feminist book award will be announced at eFKa Women’s Foundation at 17:00. The announcement will be made by a special guest, the well-known American feminist Ann Snitow of the Network of East West Women (NEWW).

The idea for the prize came out of feminist academic and activist circles in Krakow. Candidates for the award are the authors of feminist books published in 2006 or 2007, and the prize, to be awarded in the fall, is sponsored by NEWW. In the past, Manifa itself (the march) has met with opposition from certain groups such as All Polish Youth, whose members did not hesitate to resort to hateful speech and even violence to stop the march. The organizers this year hope that the march will go off without incident. Since Monday, feminist events, such as film screenings, concerts, workshops, discussions and music videos, have been taking place in various locales throughout Krakow. Organizations taking part include: Love Without Borders), Women’s Space, Autonomous Foundation, eFKa Women’s Foundation and Crisis Intervention Society. For more information, please visit Manifa’s blog: http://manifakrakow.blox.pl or to get in touch online with the organizers, write to: manifa2008@gmail.com.

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