Poland’s abortion rights protesters prepare for revolution

We’re entering a second stage of the revolution, and everyone’s invited” #12DaysofResistance

Lidia Kurasinska
2 January 2021, 10.00am
Marta Lempart leader of Polish Women’s Strike protesting the new abortion ban in Warsaw, Poland. November 2020.
Photo by Piotr Lapinski/NurPhoto.

We’re entering a second stage of the revolution, and everyone’s invited,” said Klementyna Suchanow during an online press conference on 22 December, after two months of mass protests organised by the Polish Women’s Strike.

The demonstrations began in response to a ruling that would ban abortion in cases of severe foetal anomaly in October, but they soon took on a broader anti-government sentiment. 

“On the one hand, we’re planning a revolution. On the other, we’re already making plans on what the world should look like once we’re able to manage things ourselves”, said Suchanow. 

In November the Polish Women’s Strike set up an advisory council made up of 14 thematic teams, including gender equality, workers’ rights, climate sustainability, education and anti-fascism. With these teams’ help, the group was able to agree upon demands collected from placards and social media posts. The scope of these demands goes far beyond reproductive rights – reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with the government. 

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“We’re planning a revolution... We’re already making plans on what the world should look like once we’re able to manage things ourselves”

“We’re going for freedom. We’re going for everything”, she continued. “We demand PiS [the Law and Justice party] resign, but once that happens, we’ll be left with a political scene that doesn’t inspire hope. So, we, the citizens, have to take matters into our own hands,” said Suchanow. 

The Women’s Strike set up a Loomio platform where protesters can debate the demands and their suggested solutions. It will offer practical ideas that can be used by people from all walks of life.

Screenshot 2020-12-24 at 13.53.59.png
Marta Lempart and Klementyna Suchanow at a blockade of parliament in Warsaw, Poland. November 2020.
Photo by Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto.

“From the start of the protests, we felt that they won’t be limited to the street and that we’ll have to take it to another level”, said Suchanow. “We can make this revolution wherever we are… We all know that the days of PiS are coming to an end. The goal was to remove them by the end of the year, but none of these authoritarian types give up their power with honour. We encourage everyone to persistently advance the revolution every day, on every level.”

Addressing opposition politicians, Marta Lempart, one of the founders and leaders of Polish Women’s Strike, said that “we heard that we should force the government out with our protests and you will govern and tell us what to do. This won’t happen. The question is whether you join us and adjust, or whether we’ll have to be protesting against you like we protested against PiS.”

“The government will be ousted within three months”

Lempart said she believed the government will be ousted within three months. 

She criticised the ruling party and the opposition for passing laws that “go against the interests of the people” and said that the new tool will provide decision makers with insights into the needs of the society. “The political class has a long tradition of lying that they don’t know what the people want… and serving the interests of their party bosses and the Church, but it’s ending now. Every time you say you don’t know what the people demand, we’ll tell you. It will hurt, and you decide if it’ll hurt a bit more or a bit less.”

Lempart called on everyone to join the revolution in any capacity they can. She claimed that only a fifth of what happens in the country depends on the government, and the rest is up to the society. 

“Listen, we can do this. This is a moment when our determination and the power of our anger are so huge that we can make things happen…Politicians lie to us saying nothing can be done with PiS in power… We’ve been made to feel powerless by the political class.”

Suchanow agreed: “We’re in the middle of an enormous social revolution that has not been seen in Poland in over a century.”

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