FARIDA – Female Activists Stand for Minority Women’s Rights in Poland and Europe


FARIDA – Cukunft’s project created in April 2017 aiming to empower minority women and female leaders in Poland by providing them knowledge they urge, skills they need and political support their deserve.

FAR-I-DA(my) is both an abbreviation that stands for Female Activists render Inclusive Democratic Agenda and a neologism based on play on words in English, Polish and Arabic that can be translated as ‘We Go Far’, or ‘Ladies Go Far’, We [are like]Farida’. Farida was an Alexandrian Circassian and the Queen of Egypt till 1949. As a Muslim she attended a primary school at Notre Dame de Sion in Alexandria run by French nuns. We decided to choose Farida as a role-model and a name for our project created in April 2017 that empower female leaders from religious, ethnic and national minorities in Poland, because of three reasons.

Firstly, because her biography in various aspects relates to our religious, national or ethnical groups. Secondly, because despite her high social position – as a women – she was born into a culture in which motherhood was her only priority. Giving the birth of a boy, an heir to the throne, was a must. Her husband divorced Farida just because she gave birth only to three daughters. These social and cultural constraints towards women are also well known to Polish women especially from the national, ethnic and religious minorities.

Thirdly, because despite limitations of her culture, FARIDA actively worked on improvement of the situation of other women. She accepted chair of the Red Crescent Society and was a honorary president of the Feminist Union and the New Woman Alliance. In our opinion, her social, cultural and political activism is good start for a constructive discussion on a contemporary role of female leaders from minorities and their empowerment.

Project Context and Problem Analysis

Gender-based discrimination in Poland still persists – not only in the area of private life, but also in all spheres of public life, such as the labour market, academia and politics.

Traditional gender roles in the family are still present in minds and hearts of many Poles. In the survey on representative sample of Polish citizens (Antosz 2012), half of the respondents agree with the statement that “The man should make money and the woman should care for the house and the children.” However women, people with higher education and those living in the bigger cities disagree with this statement more frequently. Women are often burdened with”double duty”, that leads to the overburdening women with housework, although they lead professional life on the same level as their male partners. The unequal division of responsibilities between men and women persists despite the fact that both of them are engaged in professional work, and even if the wages of women are the main source of income for the family (Titkow, Budrowska, Duch-Krzystoszek 2004, CBOS 2006, Ratecka 2007, Titkow, Duch-Krzystoszek 2009). As far as the inequalities in the labor market are concerned, the main source of this is economy of care, the phenomenon of the transfer of childcare and caring of other dependents on women (Charkowicz, 2010). The cost of care, which is now perceived as a burden on the state budget, is passed on to the family, which in turn leads to its retraditionalisation. The findings of Kotowska, Sztanderska and Wóycicka show that the total time of housekeeping work of women is consistently higher than men’s working time. Women spend on average 7.5 hours more than men on all household duties. In the ages of 25-34, the time difference absorbed by the domestic responsibilities of women and men is as high as 31.8 hours a week.

The situation of Polish women on labor market is not better. Men are more likely to occupy managerial positions than women and their overrepresentation persists since 1992 (PGSS, Domański 2011: 265). In the leadership hierarchy, women are most often placed at the bottom of the hierarchy. For 2005, 9% of men held senior management positions, with subordinate managers with 2% of women, and 20% of men and 12% of women were subordinates. Among individuals occupying non-managerial positions there are 71% of men and 86% of women. These differences are present also when controlling variables such as: education level, length of service, size of residence, which may indicate the existence of discriminatory mechanisms for access to higher posts. Only 12% of the board members of listed companies are women (Sedlak & Sedlak 2011). In 2011 among the occupational categories: CEO, senior officials, directors were 74% men and 26% women. These data indicate the existence of occupational segregation in this occupational category, which may be related to the phenomenon of the glass ceiling. This concept means the presence of barriers hindering women’s advancement, resulting from stereotypes or corporate culture (Sarata 2011).

Although some women eventually get high positions they have to do it by acting “masculine”, having “male” qualities. The problem of difficult access to training enhancing the qualifications of women workers towards men is also identified, which may result in difficulties in professional development and promotion of women. The results of the Gender Index Survey conducted among public administrations indicate that ministry workers, regardless of age, “women are more likely than men neglected training and promotions” (Lisowska 2012). Another manifestation of discrimination is the so-called. The phenomenon of “glass moving stairs”. In feminized occupations where there are no shortage of women ready to take a high position, men are more often promoted (Duch-Krzystoszek, Sarata 2007). By exemplification are the careers of women in science: although half of the people employed in scientific posts are female, only one in five professors is a woman. Diagnosis prepared basing on “Proposal of Diagnosis for National Action Program For Equal Treatment”, J. Górniak, P. Antosz (Eds.), Jagiellonian University, 2013.

It is important to emphasize that the discrimination against women is primarily the violation of the human rights. The violence against women is not only a problem of women, but most of all the problem of men who are aggressive towards the others, and women especially. Another important issue – that is completely unfathomable – is discrimination and violence (including domestic violence) against minority women, motivated by religion and culture.

In the FARIDA project we intend to point out that minority women in Poland are more vulnerable to discrimination and violence than men, because of their differences are more evident due to the cultural requirements of their outfit (hijab, wig, scarf, long loose clothing) and women’s behavior in the public space (avoidance of eye contact, staying alone in closed rooms or shaking hands with people of different sex).

The FARIDA project aims to change the social awareness of the situation of women and their position in minority groups in Poland. Our aim is to raise awareness of the problem of discrimination against women in Poland at local and national levels (including representatives of minority organizations, minority women and state institutions). Thanks to FARIDA, the female activists participating in the project will not only be strengthened for themselves but also for the communities and organizations they work and live in.

It is also good to emphasize that no similar project such as FARIDA has been carried out in Poland yet. In 1996-1997 and 2014-2015 various initiatives of institutional support for the position of women in Europe and Poland were undertaken i.e. by the Religions for Peace, the largest international coalition of representatives from the world’s religions dedicated to promoting peace and Małgorzata Fuszara, the Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the Polish Prime Minister and the plenipotentiary of the government for equal treatment in Poland. Our project will be a continuation of these initiatives but in a microscale that are minorities women in Poland.

Project Goals

  • Exploring the problem of discrimination and domestic or religious violence against women in minority communities in contemporary Poland.
  • Empowerment of female leaders of the minority groups in Poland that will empower other women in their local communities (train future female trainers).
  • Integration of the female minorities leaders with the representatives of local governmental bodies such as Voivodeship Offices, City councils, the Police, local politicians dealing with women’ equality issues and the Catholic church institutions representing the majority group in Polish public sphere, that supporting minorities’ social activism.
  • Building the sustainable non-formal coalition between female leaders of the local minorities with the representatives of local governmental bodies which will set the direction of the social change both in local minority communities and Polish public sphere towards effective prevention of discrimination and violence against women motivated by religion, equality of women and men in the Polish society.

Project activities

  1. Preliminary diagnosis of of discrimination and violence against women in the minority groups in Poland via interviews among female members of partners’ communities.
  2. 3 x two-day workshops in Wroclaw, Krakow and Warsaw as an answer for problems and needs of women from the minority groups in Poland diagnosed via partner organizations.
  3. Popularizing FARIDA ‘s project in local minority media – on partner websites, social media,newsletters or magazines run by and for minorities.
  1. Informal meetings with local politicians, regional representatives for religious and national minorities, police or social activists that can be helpful in establishing contacts and future cooperation.
  2. Preparation of a report on a situation of minority women and the problems they face as representatives of groups at risk of exclusion, xenophobia, discrimination or ethnic or religious based violence.
  1. Evaluation of the project and achieved results.
  2. Report and financial settlement and final report.




Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality at the Hall of Mirrors

Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia

Cukunft with Cheryl Miller, Digital Leadership Institute Founder and Executive Director and, Zuzanna Grejner, (hopefully)our future Humanity in Action fellow from Poland. Both fantastic and successful young women. We were very inspired by their work.



During a 4 day training in Szarvas, Hungary Aleksandra Wilczura, as a President of Cukunft Jewish Association, worked with 3 fantastic trainers and facilitators from Israel – Narkis Alon, Inbar Amir (ROIer2009) and Roni Kantor in a small, friendly and safe group of Jewish leaders and professionals where they could develop their skills and deal with problems with public speaking.

The facilitators and the JDC Jewish camp surrounding created the amazing atmosphere for the real RESCAPE. Thank to Junction RESCAPE opportunity Aleksandra learnt a lot about Cukunft’s strengths and weaknesses. She also learnt about the style of the Jewish leadership in the Jewish community in Poland and what kind of impact it has on a group led by Cukunft. She also learnt what and how Cukunft can improve its organizational communication, sharing ideas and style of work. We are very thankful to ROI Community for this opportunity.

RESCAPE was an innovative new seminar that brought together young Jews aged 22-35 with big ideas and a drive to make them happen in their Jewish communities. Born from the vision that we have the power to influence, reshape, and drive the landscape of our communities, RESCAPE was a unique event modeled after a short-term start-up accelerator. Using a range of methodologies, our trainers and speakers helped participants develop their ideas into a concrete action plan. Participants spent these four days designing, innovating, problem-solving, and challenging each other. During intensive training/seminar all participants worked with a group of mentors, coaches and trainers on the FARIDA project in order to make it successful, and make an impact on future position on Jewish women and female leaders within the Jewish community.


















Cukunft Jewish Association

ROI Community

The Anti-Discrimination Education Association – TEA

Jewish Association Czulent

Evangelical-Augsburg Church of Sts. Marcin

Islamic Centre in Krakow

Zustricz Foundation

MZR Mulism Religious Community in Kruszyniany

Allerhand Institute

Female leaders of Roma Minority

Notre Dame De Sion

National Democratic Institute (NDI)

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