Black Monday and Womens' Strike in Poland: Lessons from the Field.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Grzegorz PIOTROWSKI, Sodertorn University, Sweden
On Monday, October 3rd 2016 Poland has witnessed a massive mobilization of women protesting against plans to change and even further restrict abortion rights in Poland. Since the taking over of power by the conservative Law and Justice party in 2015, numerous areas of conflict have opened up, but none of them were as successful as the Women Strike. According to national polling data, 4% of the population took part in the protests and the number of supporters were much higher. Street demonstrations took place in over 70 cities and police reported over 140000 people on the streets.

The demography of protesters and the scale of the campaign are pointing to a significant shift within the Polish womens' movement: for the first time feminist arguments have reached (on such a scale) women in smaller cities, older and with lower education. Linking - traditionally rejected within conservative Polish society - feminist claims with more general frames of democracy, degree of accepted state intervention into one's lives and finally with economic arguments, the protest has mobilized numerous newcomers into feminist groups.

Moreover, the protest became a blueprint for similar campaigns in Latin America and in South Korea, similar tactics were also used during a protest campaign against changes within Polish judicial system in July 2017. Feminist initiatives became active in other social campaigns pointing out the threats of newly proposed laws for women and bringing up the importance of womens' participation in democracy.

The main purpose of the paper - based on analysis of range of keywords in the internet, observations of the author and interviews with protest organizers - is to show not only the dynamics of the protest and the shift in claim-making strategies, but also the reconfiguration of the Polish womens' movement functioning in more and more illiberal democracy.