Malgorzata Fuszara is a professor of social sciences at Warsaw University. From 1993 to 1996, she was Vice Dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Re-Socialisation at Warsaw University. In 1996, she became director of the Institute of Applied Social Sciences, where she established the first interdisciplinary Gender Studies programme, marking the first time in post-communist Europe that Gender Studies was officially offered as a degree with the approval of the Ministry of Science and Education.
‘I hope that in 10 years’ time Gender Studies will flourish in universities, and the gender perspective will be taken into account in research and the academia, in social policy, and in legislative efforts.’
Fuszara’s work incorporates the fields of sociology of law, women studies, gender studies and national minorities. She has taught gender studies in Poland, the United States and Spain, and is a member of three editorial committees: Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society; The European Journal of Women’s Studies;andSocietas/Communitas. Fuszara is also the author of more than 100 articles and chapters of books published in Polish, English, German, Slovak, Bulgarian, Russian and Romanian, as well as the editor of three books, co-author of three books and author of two books.
Given her extensive knowledge in the area of gender equality, her active involvement in women’s organisations and her extensive advocacy for women’s rights, Fuszara helped co-author, along with Professor Eleonora Zielińska, the very first draft law on equality between women and men in Poland. Drafts of such a law were being created jointly by the Parliamentary Women’s Group, women’s NGOs and women experts from the early 1990s. The bill was supposed to regulate fully the issue of equality of women and men, create mechanisms to prevent discrimination and set up institutions with which a person who suffered discrimination could file a complaint. One of the most divisive issues in the bill was a 40percent quota for women’s participation in all appointed or nominated authorities.
The bill was submitted to Parliament many times and just as often rejected, but Fuszara kept fighting. In June 2009, the first Women’s Congress was held in Warsaw, organised by a network of women that included members of women’s NGOs as well as people never before involved in the women’s movement. Approximately 150 000 signatures were collected under the draft law on gender parity; collecting signatures in public places, such as shopping centres, theatres, museums, etc., provided an excellent opportunity for publicising the issue. Thanks to the support of some media, the initiative turned into a wide-ranging social campaign explaining the mechanics and effects of parity.
'Quotas are a measure to ensure that gender equality arrives faster.’
The draft law on quotas underwent the first reading in the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament on 17 February 2010. Fuszara played role of the rapporteur on behalf of a citizens’ committee during the first reading, and an expert during readings in parliamentary commissions. Parliamentarians modified the citizens' draft to introduce a quota of 35% for both genders on candidate lists. On 3December 2010, the majority of members of parliament in the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament (the Seym) voted in favour of the35% quota in Poland. After approval from the Senate, the law was signed by the President on 31 January 2011.
Fuszara is also Gender Equality Minister in the Shadow Cabinet of the Congress of Women. Created on 7th March 2011 by the women who actively participated in the 1st Congress of Women, the Shadow Cabinet promotes the areas that are important for women but overlooked by decision-makers.
Finally, Fuszara has been involved in various EU research projects, including ‘Gender and Governance: The Civic and Political Participation and Representation of Women in the EU Candidate Countries’ (2003-2006) and ‘Gendered Citizenship in Multicultural Europe: The Impact of Contemporary Women’s Movement’ (2007-2011). She was also an expert for the group of specialists on Mainstreaming Gender, Council of Europe (1996-1998).