Wanda Nowicka – Poland

Linked with ASTRA Network, with Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in EU and non-EU countries, and with The Elders.org.

Wanda Nowicka is a leading activist for women’s sexual and reproductive health rights in Poland. She is co-founder and director of the country’s Federation for Women and Family Planning, and co-founder of ASTRA, the Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Nowicka is an outspoken advocate of women’s right to a legal and safe abortion, accessible contraception and comprehensive sex education. Through her work at ASTRA, government commitments to this crucial aspect of women’s health and rights are now monitored and reported on nationally and internationally. Nowicka has worked tirelessly to enable women to have access to legal support where the system fails them on their reproductive rights and health, recently taking a case as far as the European Court for Human Rights … (full text).

Wanda Nowicka (ur. 21 listopada 1956) – filolog klasyczny, działaczka ruchów kobiecych i praw człowieka, feministka, polityk lewicy. W latach 1985-1993 nauczycielka łaciny i angielskiego w liceach warszawskich. Współzałożycielka Stowarzyszenia na rzecz Państwa Neutralnego Światopoglądowo Neutrum (1990). Współzałożycielka (1992) i przewodnicząca Federacji na rzecz Kobiet i Planowania Rodziny. Współzałożycielka Polskiego Komitetu Organizacji Pozarządowych – Pekin ‘95. Współzałożycielka (1999) i koordynatorka sieci regionalnej ASTRA (Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights). W latach 1995-2002 ekspertka Światowej Organizacji Zdrowia (Program dot. ludzkiej rozrodczości). W 1994 r. laureatka polskiej edycji konkursu Kobieta Europy. W 2000 laureatka Tęczowego Lauru. W 2003 r. współpracowała z holenderską Fundacją Kobiety na falach i koordynowała udział organizacji polskich w wizycie statku Langenort, pełniącego rolę gabinetu aborcyjnego, we Władysławowie. W 2005 r. odebrała nagrodę 100.000 funtów od Fundacji Sigrid Rausing dla sieci ASTRA za wyróżniające się przywództwo. 16 maja 2008 r. Nowicka odebrała prestiżową Nagrodę Uniwersytetu na Wygnaniu (University-In-Exile Award) od nowojorskiego Uniwersytetu New School. Nagroda Uniwersytetu na Wygnaniu została ustanowiona w celu uhonorowania osób instytucji wspierających rozwój demokracji i praw człowieka. Jej mężem jest Światosław Florian Nowicki. Ma trzech synów – Michał Nowicki jest aktywistą komunistycznym działającym w Lewicy Bez Cenzury, Florian Nowicki jest działaczem skrajnej lewicy i politykiem Polskiej Partii Pracy … (full text on polnish wikipedia).

Her CV.

In polish: her personal blog.


Wanda Nowicka – Poland

Watch these videos:

She says: “I advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially for the right to legal and safe abortion, modern and accessible contraception and comprehensive sexuality education at the national and international level” … (full text).

Each year the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers highlights sixteen women, men and organizations that standout in the fight against gender violence. Representing December 9th, is: Wanda Nowicka … (full text).

The position paper on SRHR from Wanda Nowicka of ASTRA – Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights … (full text).

Find her and her publications (in polnish and english) on Women on Waves – Press releases; on EMM; on AOL-video; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search.

On January 29, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament (EP) held a public hearing on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).  During the hearing, five panelists spoke: Wanda Nowicka of the ASTRA Network; Irene Donadio of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPFEN); Jana Tutkova of the Centre for Bioethical Reform; Sandra Dahlén, an author and gender and sexuality educator; and Douglas Sylva of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) … (full text).

Some articles in polnish:

… Honorary degree recipients include sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, urban planner Majora Carter, theater director Elizabeth LeCompte, and management educator Henry Mintzberg. Women’s rights activist Wanda Nowicka will receive the University in Exile Award … (full text).

… Wanda Nowicka, Director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning, a Warsaw-based NGO and an active ASTRA member, was among the women expressing fear and dismay at current events in her country. “Abortion became legal in Poland in 1956,” she says, “and then in 1993, in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’ we saw the introduction of anti-abortion laws … (full text, December 18, 2005).

… The Solidarity anti-communist movement wrested power from the communists in 1989 but, while its reformers freed up the economic and political systems, they restricted options for women. They granted payback demands from the Catholic Church (which had provided sanctuary for Solidarity dissidents when communists banned the movement in 1981) to curtail access to both abortion and divorce, return nuns and priests to public schools and then, in 1993, enact the near-total ban on abortion with prison penalties for doctors who helped women get illegal abortions … (full text, spring 2003.

… While for most mothers giving birth is a blessing, for some it is a question of life and death. A recent case has led to doubts as to whether this is taken into consideration in Poland. A single woman from Warsaw became pregnant, but because of her serious eyesight condition, she knew that by having a baby she could go blind. Alicja Tysiac applied for the right to terminate her pregnancy on health grounds, but she was refused. As a result, she has nearly lost her eyesight. She argues that due to the doctors’ refusal, her private life collapsed, she received inhuman and degrading treatment and was discriminated on the basis of her sex and disability. Poland is a predominantly Catholic country. Its abortion law is one of the strictest in Europe and termination is illegal except when there’s a threat to the mother’s or the fetus’s health or when a woman was subjected to rape. However, in practice, the law is hardly ever observed. All in all there are around 200 abortions a year in Poland, according to Wanda Nowicka of the Federation for Women and Family Planning: … (full text, 16.6.2006).

The following discussion paper on ethical considerations on anti-abortion law in Poland aims to present the multiple ethical issues and concerns around the anti-abortion law which affected strongly the autonomy of women by limiting substantially access to reproductive health services including safe abortion … // … The Federation for Women and Family Planning has been monitoring the implementation of the law since its very inception. The 2000 report will be published very soon. The main findings of the report are:

  • The anti-abortion law did not stop abortions, it pushed them to a very expensive abortion underground performed by gynaecologists. On the other hand;
  • Legal abortions are less and less available in public hospitals. Women who are entitled to legal abortion are often denied it on a variety of grounds, including conscientious objection. As a result, they also use underground services.

This conclusion is also supported by official data … (full text, 18-22 September 2000).


Federacja na rzecz Kobiet i Planowania Rodziny.org;

Art. 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDHR;

Center for Womens Global Leadership;

Every Human has Rights.org;

Court censures Poland for denying abortion rights, March 21, 2007;

Poland violates human rights, says European Tribunal, 2007-03-20;

the book: Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights in Comparative Perspective: U.S. and UN Advocacy – reproductive and sexual health rights, and how these issues are seen within a United Nations framework, and within advocacy groups in the United States … (full text);

UN foundation.org.

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