10 Outstanding Polish Women
Publication prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland presenting stories of 10 Outstanding Polish Women who have made a mark on the world through their work, as well as those who have had the heart and courage to change the world for the better.
In her life she was guided by the notion that “if you see a person drowning, you must jump into the water to save them, whether you can swim or not “. An activist, a social worker, a nurse. Before #WW2, she was helping single mothers, the unemployed, and the homeless.
From the beginning of the Nazi German occupation, despite the ban, she was involved in helping Jewish families. As a main activist of the children’s section of the Council for Aid to Jews Żegota, she saved Jewish children by helping them escape from the ghetto and smuggling them into Polish shelters and families – in total around 2500 children. She wrote down all the new and original names of the children she rescued on sheets of paper, rolled up and hid in, among other places, jars buried in a garden. Thanks to this, she gave these children the possibility of finding out their true identity.
On today’s Polish National Day of Remembrance of Poles Rescuing Jews under German Occupation, meet Irena Sendler – a social activist, a Righteous Among the Nations!
Sailor, traveller, and naval architect. The first woman to sail around the world solo on her 31-foot sloop Mazurek, ⛵️ designed by her husband. She was racing against 🇳🇿 sailor Naomi James, who finished her voyage a month later.
She remembered her circumnavigation not only as an interesting chapter in her life, but also for its punishing days of hard physical labour. She struggled with storms, 15-metre 🌊, icebergs but the worst to her was … the lack of sleep.
Her solitary voyage started #OTD 45 years ago, and it lasted 2 years, till March 1978. She followed a course across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific Ocean, then around Australia and Africa. She sailed 28,696 nautical miles all alone. Her achievement was listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Her name is Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz, often referred to as “the first lady of the oceans”.
Her work exudes wisdom, brilliance and a unique sense of humour. In her poetry, she valued most elevating the everyday to the extraordinary. She didn’t like pathos.
She used to say: “Whenever I write, I feel as if someone was standing behind me and making clownish faces. That is why I am very careful and avoid large words as much as I can”.
A sense of humour accompanied her not only at work but also in everyday life and manifested itself in her famous passion for creating collages. She created them out of newspaper clippings – both photos and texts. They were composed for a specific addressee and characterized by a surreal sense of humour and apt punch lines.
She was not only a poet but also a literary critic, essayist and translator of French Baroque poetry.
Her name is Wisława Szymborska, the first Polish woman and the ninth woman in the world to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
At 21, she went to work at the Gdańsk Shipyard – at first as a welder, then as an overhead crane operator. She was one of the founders and a member of the Free Trade Unions on the Coast, an illegal organization formed in opposition to the communist authorities.
She always bravely stood up against various injustices and violations of labour rights. This made her an object of persecution by the communist Security Service – detentions, revisions, threats, internment, imprisonment.
Her dismissal five months before she was due to retire became a spark which initiated protests of Gdańsk Shipyard workers in August 1980 and at the same time gave rise to #Solidarność, which in turn led to the democratic changes in Poland in 1989, and then throughout Eastern Europe.
Her name is Anna #Walentynowicz, one of the 100 women, who defined the last century according to Time! She died tragically #OTD in 2010 near Smoleńsk.
She was known as a painter of silence or a painter of human souls. It was said of her that she didn’t paint the eyes but expressions, not lips but a smile.
She worked in Kraków, Munich and Paris, where she was awarded Grand Prix at the 1937 International Exposition.
She was known for her still life paintings, interiors and landscapes, but in her art the portrait reigned supreme. Her portraits were subtle and elegant in terms of colour palette, ambiguous and moody. Apart from the look, they captured the soul of the model, their character and emotions. She shunned embellishment.
She was recognised, successful, awarded with numerous prizes. She exhibited her works in Europe and the United States. On World Art Day, meet Olga Boznańska, born #OTD in 1865, recognised by the Bazaar Berlin as one of the 12 best painters in Europe!