The path walked by Poland and Poles since the mid-20th century is a rise from the destruction caused by the Second World War, then – externally imposed a form of socialism, and even later on – an attempt for a free economy to be installed on those fragile foundations. All this has had its impact, with plenty of hope and joy, but also disenchantment and distress being imprinted on the lives of Poles. Against this background was she – constantly active, constantly able to speak her own mind – prof. Danuta Waniek.
In a country where the term “post-communist” can be viewed as the worst imaginable insult, Ms Waniek openly speaks of how much does she owe to the socialist country. And – indeed – it can be considered that she was one of those who accepted this system, although not without criticism. In a country where calling a woman, a “feminist” is at the very least puzzling for many, prof. Waniek speaks openly: “I am a feminist, and my whole feminism is Article 33. of the Polish Constitution that says that men and women have identical rights.” Called by some an idealist, an “Iron Lady” compared to Margaret Thatcher. Others call her a scandalist and a person who besmears the name of Poland and its heroes. A person born shortly after World War II, prof. Danuta Waniek – often valued ambivalently – has to be appraised for boldly claiming her views, fighting for her beliefs and her good name. Fighting that – as she herself admits – comes at a high price.
E. Kania, “Democracy of the male species”: the power, transformation and feminism in the political experience of prof. Danuta Waniek, “Political and Economic Activity of Women”; red. Iwetta Andruszkiewicz, 2013