The Women’s Party taking on Polish male chauvinism

Polish Women's Party appear naked on billboards to combat country's political chauvinism

THE POLISH WOMEN’S party have appeared on billboards across Poland to combat what they see as the country’s biggest political problem: male chauvinism.

Founder of the newly-formed group, Manuela Gretkowska, says that Polish politics is run ‘by men in suits for men in suits’, and wants to challenge rightwing religious parties – such as the League of Polish Families, which wants to tighten already restrictive abortion laws – and the male-dominated political arena.

The group are fighting for free contraception, an increase in the number of gynacologists, a right to pain-free birth, expanded child care, equal pay and pension rights and are using the poster to challenge old-school stereotypes.

‘The poster is intended to shatter stereotypes in the anachronistic world of politics,’ Gretkowska tells The Times. ‘We are beautiful, nude and proud.’

But priests all over the country and members of the Conservative Law and Justice Party, the main group in the Government coalition, disagree and have suggested it’s an insult to voters.

Gretkowska is defiant: ‘This is not pornography, there is nothing to see in terms of sex, our faces are intelligent, proud and committed.’

The party only has 3% of the vote – 5% is needed for parliamentary seats – but their campaign is gathering momentum, with leading Polish actresses (Krystyna Janda), boxers (Agnieszka Rylik) and singers (Kayah) getting behind them.

In Poland about 55% of women – six million – stay at home and out of the labour market. Most are dependent on the salaries of male partners or on meagre welfare payments. The political parties all claim to offer equal opportunities for would-be women politicians but in practice place their names low on electoral lists so that they rarely succeed.

Gretkowski, for one, wants to see this changed. ‘It can’t be right that we pay taxes just like men and yet let men decide over our future, work and health.’

The group could already be having an impact – President Kaczynski has just appointed an adviser on women’s affairs, Nelly Rokita, to help to mobilise the Catholic female vote.

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