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Mar 06 2015

Amazing Polish Women: International Women’s Day

I’ve been living in Poland since October, and I’ve come across three statues that commemorate women, so I thought this would be a good way to celebrate International Women’s Day, which is this Sunday, 8th March.  Because of that, you get three photos for this week’s Foto Friday as opposed to one.

Elzbieta Zawacka

As I was wandering around Torun, I came across this statue, and was intrigued because I had no idea who this woman was.  As it turns out, Elzbieta Zawacka was an incredible woman who led a long and extraordinary life.  She was a teacher, lecturer, and professor, but there was so much more to this woman’s life.

She was the only woman to be in the Cichociemni, which were elite special-operations paratroopers of the Polish Army in exile.  She also fought in the Warsaw Uprising, and was part of the Polish underground.  She was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to 10 years in prison, although she only served about 4 years.

She was also an instructor for a female military training organisation whose activities helped the Polish Army Headquarters in London to give women of the organization equal rights and privileges as their male counterparts.   She was also an active member of the World Union of Home Army Soldiers and cooperated with Solidarność in the 1980s.

A Woman Orderly

While I was in Kolobrzeg, the same thing happened.  It was my first night there, and I saw this memorial as I was walking back from the beach.  It recognises the part women played in the Polish army during World War II, particularly in the Battle of Kolobrzeg.  This statue is of a female orderly, which was one of the many roles women had in the armed forces at the time.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie

This is one of a few statues in Warsaw dedicated to Marie Curie (Marie Skłodowska-Curie); a woman whose significant scientific discoveries helped in the progress of  physics and chemistry as well as in the advancement of engineering, biology, and medicine.  She also paved the way for the changing role of women in science and academia.


Here are the cities where I found the memorials.  It’s interesting, although I doubt significant, that when plotted on a map they are in a perfect diagonal line crossing Poland.

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Have your say 

Do you know of any other statues in Poland that commemorate other amazing Polish women?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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