OWEN - Mobile Akademie für Geschlechterdemokratie und Friedensförderung e.V.

Women as actors in the upheavals of 1989/90 and today

What has become of our visions and political goals 30 years after? Together with our cooperation partners we are collecting historical knowledge and today’s perspectives on women active in the upheavals of 1989/90 and in today’s political movements in Poland, Czech Republic, Russian Federation and Germany. The history of transformation is also the history of our own commitment in our society and abroad. In a European context we discuss differences and commonalities of experiences and political visions.
The project consisted of a conference in September 2019, an event in Prague in March 2020 and a workshop in Gdańsk. Below you can read more about the conference and the workshops.

The project was implemented by OWEN e.V. in partnership with Friedenskreis Pankow, Gender Studies Prague, Foundation for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights “Don Women”, Public Verdict Foundation, the European Solidarity Centre (ESC), the Insitute of Sociology of Jagiellonian University and the Social Online Archive - Bunt Kobiet.

Funded by

          

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>> Übersicht Aktivitäten EfBB

 

COMPLETE CONFERENCE DOCUMENTATION

>> ENGLISH (pdf)

>> RUSSIAN (pdf)


DOCUMENTATION PARTS

 

INTRODUCTION

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ALLIANCE FOR CIVIC PARTICIPATION: NOT FOR US WITHOUT US.
IN A DEMOCRACY, EACH ONE OF US COUNTS.
LET’S CREATE IT TOGETHER, NOW AND HERE!

These two slogans encapsulate a net of questions that surfaced in many ways at the conference: was the consolidation of democracy after the transition of 1989/90 sufficiently anchored in the population? And so does democracy have sufficient local support in order for the principle of representation to be effective, the principle we understand as a hallmark of representative democracy? And if this is not the case, then what can we do—or what is already being done by the many local activists that came together for the conference?

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THERE IS NO FREEDOM WITHOUT DIVERSITY.
THERE IS NO JUSTICE WITHOUT SOLIDARITY.

This slogan formulated by the Polish country group expresses concerns about the balance between institutional rights and lived social reality. There is not only a need for rights to exist as something that people can appeal to, but also for a lived solidarity and diversity. This question between formal elements (rights fixed in a constitution) and social reality (lived society and diversity) was one of the main themes of Workshop 2 on Fundamental Rights, Constitution and Democracy.

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OUT OF COAL! OFF INTO COLOURFUL LIFE!
PROFITS INTO THE SOCIAL, ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM CHANGE!

One of the themes running through the conference was the economic transformations that ran parallel to the political transformations that occurred in 1989/1990 and the years to follow. There was the sense that today’s situation and today’s problems have just as much to do with the economic changes that occurred as with the political ones. But were these economic changes acknowledged, debated, and analysed in the same way as the political changes? Or are they often left out of the discussion when we reflect on the upheavals of 1989/90?

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SOCIAL GENDER CLIMATE JUSTICE

This slogan embraces a tendency prevalent throughout the conference: to think across topics and to create alliances not only between countries, but also between actors working in different fields. It also highlights a question that came up at various times: “should specific women’s questions be discussed separately or as part of a wider group of challenges in a time of great socio-political changes?” And there were many different answers to this question. On the one hand, there was the worry that women’s issues get side-lined in times of transitions: “during the big changes, we immediately forget feminist issues. This happened in the 60s: the big problem was the problem of power. In upheavals, one doesn’t consider the feminist position because other questions of power come to the foreground: the relations between black and white, poor and rich, but not man and woman. There is always a competition between the different structures of power.”

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WE HAVE TO LEAVE LIVE HERE

The theme of Russia and its position visà- vis other countries and Europe was another thread running through the discussions. In particular, there was the sense of a double isolation that activists in Russia face: within their own country and within Europe. Spaces for activism are shrinking within Russia, for instance, with the government’s taking control of financial resources and expecting “to be paid with loyalty.” And this is aggravated by the threat of the general isolation of Russia within Europe, another important topic of discussion. And yet activists stake a claim: we also belong, we will not leave.

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SOLIDARITY, PAST AND PRESENT – CONCLUSIONS AND OUTLOOK

When asked what they were leaving with, participants emphasized the feeling of solidarity created through the encounters at the conference: between countries, within countries, and between different activist groups. For some, the end of Communism had also meant the end of solidarity and interest amongst the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Others felt that the end of Communism meant the creation of new relations—for instance, new connections between OWEN and its partner organizations in the 1990s. The conference gave women a chance to take up both old and new threads of connection.

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WOMEN AS ACTORS IN THE UPHEAVALS OF 1989/90

Presentation by Marina Grasse

There were many women who entered the political stage during the period of upheaval of the GDR (the German Democratic Republic) in 1989/90 and who helped to set into motion the “revolution from below”. The majority of these actors had already become politically active in various opposition groups in the 1980s and were co-founders of the civic movements set up in the fall of 1989.

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DEMOCRATIC UPHEAVALS IN POLAND 30 YEARS AFTER 1989: A FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE

Presentation by Jennifer Ramme

When I began to become active as a feminist in around 1993, I was part of an alternative movement in Poland. In this movement, we believed that we were living in a significant time in which it was possible to reshape society, to actualize utopias and to organize new forms of living together, which would embody both an alternative to neoliberal capitalism and to authoritarian state socialism. From today’s perspective, some of these ambitions and desires sound naïve; at the same time, the need for these alternatives has become more urgent than ever.

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IMPRINT / IMPRESSUM DOCUMENTATION

Design by BAR PACIFICO/ Girardet & Hickethier, Tina Flammiger und Fabian Hickethier

Photographs by Christine Haas/Robert Havemann– Gesellschaft/Werner Fischer/Rolf Walter

Manifestation photographs by Fabian Hickethier

Editorial Team
Alina Vaisfeld
Inga Luther

Translation
Rumiya Aysitulina

An event organised by OWEN e.V. in collaboration with Friedenskreis Pankow, Gender Studies Prague, Public Verdict Foundation and Foundation for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights “Don Women”

funded by

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