Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Robert Blobaum.

Committee Co-Chair

Elizabeth A. Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Katherine Aaslestad


Exploring the history and trajectory of women's issues and activism in Poland, this work begins discussing the early twentieth century, moving through to the time period of the Solidarity trade union movement, continuing through the political transitions during the 1990s and ending in the present day. By examining a multitude of issues which affect women's lives (in the quotidian and overall senses), the existence, development and necessity of women's organizations and feminist activism in Poland becomes apparent. Labor, social, legal, and economic issues are of primary concern in contextualizing Polish women's place in society.;The introductory chapter begins by examining Polish women's early activity in political and economic issues to provide context for their later involvement in Solidarity's operations. The aim of the second chapter is to discuss women's involvement with the Solidarity movement and to recognize the consequences of their subsequent exclusion from political processes during the country's transition from communism to democracy.;Focusing first on the historical context of women in Polish society through the 1990s, this work then proceeds to examine the unique case of what it means to be a woman in Poland by introducing specific issues such as the controversial abortion laws, the influence of the Catholic Church, nationalism and Polish politics in the early transitional period and periodically comparing the Polish case to that of German women. The following chapter then proceeds to examine the vast spectrum of women's activism in Poland and the cultural difficulties in embracing the concept of feminism. Finally, the last chapter of this work details current issues, problems and potential for Polish women and concludes with an analysis of the importance of women's activism and feminist principles of equality in society as critical to national and international measures of progress and development.;The purpose of this work is to note the existing inequality between men and women, which has developed in an interesting manner in Polish society. Given the unique aspects of gender inequality in Poland this work clearly establishes a need for further scholarship and support for women's activism. In a world which some consider post-feminist, the importance of cultivating a sense of feminist curiosity in such research is of utmost importance. Continuing to address the inequality and discrimination propagated by gender stereotypes and cultural tradition is not only a choice, but a duty for historical scholars. In the case of Poland, unique ties between the Catholic Church and Polish nationalism have created a climate in which women's activism and feminism has been closely linked with a negative socialist legacy and has also been labeled a detrimental by-product of cultural modernism. This work sheds light on such issues in Poland, contributing to previous historiography on women in Central and Eastern Europe while providing a fresh perspective.