Stories of #WomenForEurope

Małgorzata Tarasiewicz

"I have been an activist in oppositional movement to communism in the ’80s then in Amnesty International and in feminist organisations. Politics came as a natural consequence. In recent years our local governments in Sopot and Gdańsk have not been responsive to our suggestions, actions and campaigns. Politicians were not listening to people’s voices and concerns. They are destroying the ecological system, listening to demands of developers and not from the people. Not to mention the neglect of the needs of women. Hence, I decided to go “to the other side” and become a Mayor of the City or at least a chancellor in the City Council.

There are completely new challenges in my life now as people with whom I used to work at the grassroots now treat me differently. They look at me as a politician that can either win or loose. There are no sentiments in the world of politics and my activities have to be very pragmatic. As the stakes, even at the local elections, are high, our adversaries are brutal and harsh. I have to pay a lot of attention to keep my private life not exposed in the media. I find it also hard to raise money needed to run a campaign. In a non-governmental organisation you raise money for your organisation to help solve a problem many people might have. In politics you have to convince people that you are the best person to solve that problem. It requires a lot of assertiveness. For women it is usually easier to ask for help for others than to fundraise for their campaign.

Women politicians are more open, more inclusive, more collaborative and have more empathy. They often bring new important subjects into politics which were treated as marginal by male dominated politics: more policies to support care and social welfare, equality and good education and healthcare.

My shehero is Ann Snitow, an American feminist who is a legendary feminist in Central and Eastern Europe and the US. She helped us, feminists to build our strength by making us "feeling powerful, alive and in possession of our own life” which has been extremely important in our region where most people had been suppressed by communist regimes and women were suppressed also by patriarchy. Her words make me remember about the roots of my activism in the past and raises obligations for future actions as a politician."

Małgorzata Tarasiewicz is EWL’s Board member for Poland. She will be speaking on 7 June, the launch of our campaign ’50:50 Women for Europe, Europe for Women’. In the run-up to this event, we are publishing stories of women in politics in Europe.

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