FemFund, the Polish women’s fund and a new Channel grantee as of early 2022, released a report on the current state of feminist organizing in Poland The Feminist Fund Report: Where There Is Oppression, There Is Resistance! in November 2022.
FemFund has only been an organization since 2018 but they realized that they had a unique opportunity to poll their community and applicants to the fund in order to go deeper and try to present a picture and to share the perspectives of a wide array of feminists all over Poland. To date they have supported over 160 groups and organizations to which they have transferred a total amount of over PLN 3 million.
Along with in-depth interviews with activists, FemFund reviewed 600 mini-grant applications they received during the years 2018-2020. From the report’s summary: “Among the groups and organizations that shared their perspective with us were pensioners, teenagers, mothers, women with disabilities, lesbians, non-binary, queer, and transgender persons, sportswomen, local activists, sex workers, trade unionists, migrant and refugee women, housing activists, anarchists, artists, cultural animators, historians, village representatives, women associated in groups of rural housewives and many, many others.”
FemFund focused on the following questions:
- In what reality do feminist activists operate in Poland? What are they up against? How do they see their surroundings and political situation? How do they define the oppression or inequality they experience?
- What strategies do persons currently involved in feminist activism propose? What tools are most often mentioned? Why? What do activists, women and other persons need to do for themselves and/or to support others?
- How do women and other persons in the FemFund community see their relationship with feminism? How do they perceive feminism and the feminist movement in Poland?
Most importantly, FemFund is using the report to create their strategic plan for the coming years with the hope that “by remaining faithful to this knowledge and at the same time open to the next voices coming from our community, FemFund will be able to provide the feminist movement in Poland with the necessary, adequate, and real support.”
The report executive summary describes several key findings. The report states that “feminist activism is a direct response to violence, unequal, disrespectful treatment, and daily oppression experienced by hundreds of women, transgender, and non-binary persons in Poland. Feminist activism directly results from local gender inequalities and appears according to the mechanism “where there is oppression, there is resistance”. Women and persons affected by discrimination and violence do not remain passive – they seek solutions, contact others, strive to change the situation, plan, and implement their strategies of rebellion and liberation. Actions for women and the LGBTQ+ community are therefore not a product of the “West”, a harmful import, imposed on the society in Poland by hostile and foreign “colonizers”. Thus, the domestic feminist movement appears primarily as a local phenomenon.”
The report also makes clear that “feminists are everywhere [in Poland] …. It is certainly not only a big city phenomenon, but it also happens away from the “centre.”
Lastly, the report posits that “feminism is the answer to the multidimensional crisis and a revolution.” To wit, the report states that, “the activism of women and LGBTQ+ persons is a response to the complex reality of violence, exclusion, and inequality. The current social and political situation is defined by activists as a situation of multidimensional crisis, which consists of global issues (climate crisis, COVID-19 pandemic), local political processes (state homo- and trans-phobia, anti-abortion law, human rights violations on the Polish-Belarusian border), but also structural oppression. Experienced sexism and misogyny are universal and normalized, permeating virtually every area of life.”