“In our city, looking at history from the perspective of gender is more than just theory”
Łódź Women’s Trial is a group of ten women who cast light on stories that are overlooked in official narratives. In a city that gained its identity thanks to the hard work of female textile workers, gender inequality is not just a thing of the remote past. In the ‘90s, the city was struck by the political transformation and a 100,000 people, including many women, were left unemployed and with no support. That is why herstorical thinking is not an academic exercise, but the answer to everyday experiences. As the members of Łódź Women’s Trial guide others around Łódź, following the footsteps of women. They tell stories of Jewish women in the ghetto, of servants, of pre-war era leftist activists swept away by decommunization, opposition activists pushed to the margin by their male colleagues, and precursors of feminist art. They organize meetings, collect memories, fight for female patrons of Łódź’s streets.
Herstory as a tool for change
Łódź Women’s Trail emphasizes that herstory is not a goal in itself. They believe that it builds feminist consciousness: why do “feminine” things get left on the margins? What mechanisms are behind this and are they still active today? “Our basic goal is not popularizing his/herstories, but gender equality. We see herstories as a tool for change, e.g. as a source of role models for active, agential women who are hard to come by in mass culture”, they say. The organization wants to present analogies between the toil of workers in the 19th century and the low-paid, yet essential work in today’s caring professions.
Tracking the stories of “nameless” caregivers
Thanks to the funds from the minigrant, the group will engage Łódź’s female residents in activities focused on the stories of caregivers from orphanages in the Łódź ghetto during World War II. 15 women will participate in herstory workshops with Patrycja Dołowy – artist, activist, writer, who wrote about those caregivers in one of her texts. The participants will create a common project – maybe a work of art, maybe a performative action accompanying the workshops. Thus, Łódź Women’s Trail will bridge another gap in the city’s collective memory.
Grant amount: PLN 4, 400
Photo credit: Aneta Wawrzoła, Grzegorz Habryn