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April 13 Talk by Polish Scholar Will Discuss Democracy's Effect on Poland's Women

For release: April 8, 2011
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843

Magda Biejat
Magda Biejat
Magda Biejat, a native of Warsaw, Poland, and a doctoral candidate at the Polish Academy of Sciences, will speak at the University of Memphis on April 13 about the changes in the status of rural Polish women that occurred after that communist satellite became a democracy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

A visiting scholar at the U of M’s Center for Research on Women, Biejat will present her talk at 3 p.m. in Room 429 of Clement Hall.  It will be followed by an informal reception and refreshments.  It is free and open to the public.

The transition from communism to democracy in Poland had negative consequences for women’s civic engagement in grassroots organizations.  Especially affected were the Farmers’ Wives Associations (FWA).

With roots reaching back to the 14th century, the FWAs were appropriated by the State after the communists took over the country following World War II.  That status afforded the members a legalized and safe place for their engagement in public life.  Members gained respect as quasi formal community leaders, and the women were able to influence life in their communities.

However, unlike their male counterparts, the FWAs were not legalized with the country’s transition to democracy, and a male-dominated new government relegated women from rural areas to a subordinate gray area of civil society.  As a result, much of the FWAs’ work and history have become invisible to historians and researchers.

More information about Biejat’s talk and the Center for Research on Women is available online at http://crow.memphis.edu, by email to jgooch@memphis.edu, or by phone at 901-678-2642.

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