Celebrating remarkable Polish women during women’s history month Posted by Kasia on Mar 5, 2021 in Culture
Women’s History Month 2021 is officially here. The month-long celebration is a chance to acknowledge women’s contributions to history, culture and society and people do it all over the world.
There are so many remarkable Polish women that left a print on the history. Too many to mention in one post. But I chose 4 that for few different reasons are close to my heart.
Jadwiga of Poland (1384-1399)
Crowned with the title of “King” during an era when female rulers were relatively uncommon in Europe. She donated most of her personal wealth (including royal insignia) to charity and education, funding and restoring many schools and hospitals, and focusing on maintaining peace and development during the time she was ruling the country.
My mother’s name is Jadwiga, that’s one of the reasons I decided to mention the queen:). I love that she was a female ruler during the time when mostly men were “important”. I also love that she really supported education.
Irena Sendler (1910-2008)
She was a nurse working in Warsaw when WW2 started. She joined the secret Polish resistance organization Żegota (codename for “Council of Aid to the Jews”). Despite many dangers she managed to rescue around 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto in occupied Warsaw, with the assistance of other members of Żegota organization.
I love her heroism and love of helping other people!
Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943-1992)
She was a computer engineer and a mountain climber. She is known as the third woman (the first Pole to do so) and the first European woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain above sea level. She accomplished this in 1978. In 1986 she became the first woman to successfully climb K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, which is widely considered to be the deadliest peak in existence (what she did without supplemental oxygen).
Rutkiewicz is believed to have died aged 49, while attempting to climb Kangchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world.
I love outdoor sports of any kind, as well as I love technology. For these two reasons I mentioned Wanda. There are two great books where you can read more about her adventures: “Savage Summit” by Jennifer Jordan (about first 5 women who climbed K2). The second book is “Freedom Climbers” by Bernadette McDonald (the story of Poland’s truly remarkable mountaineers who dominated Himalayan climbing during the period between the end of World War II and the start of the new millennium). I read both books and I absolutely recommend them to anyone who is interested in the history of climbing.
Princess Izabela Czartoryska (1746-1835)
Writer, art collector, and prominent figure of the Enlightenment movement. Her palace was an important political and intellectual meeting place, known as one of the most liberal and progressive court in the pre-Partitioned Commonwealth. She was the founder of Poland’s first museum, which she called the ‘Temple of the Sibyl’ or ‘Temple of Memory’ (later moved to Kraków where it exists under the name of Czartoryski Museum). Her contribution to Polish art and culture was outstanding. Czartoryski Palace is located in Puławy, where I went to high school. This, and my love for art, are reasons I chose to mention her here.
With women’s history month here and International Women’s Day approaching, I would like to say to all the women:
If they whisper to you “you can’t withstand the storm”, whisper back “I’m the storm!”. Believe in Yourself.
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