Why Potent Political Leaders Failed in the Struggle for Women’s Rights? The Case Study of ‘Gals for Gals’

Joanna RAK (Adam Mickiewicz University)

The study’s subject is the failure of political leaders of the pro-choice protest movement Gals for Gals (Dziewuchy Dziewuchom), which operated in Poland in 2016–2018. The failure occurred because the potent political leaders were not able to make use of tremendous social support for their initiative to win the protection for women’s rights. Instead, the protest movement demobilised and its goals remained unachieved. Why? The main goal of the analysis is to determine how the sense of satisfaction of needs manifested by the leaders changed during the political activity of Gals for Gals and to what extent these changes depended on external stimuli in the form of work in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland on two bills on tightening anti-abortion provisions. Qualitative source analysis of the leader’s entries on the movement’s Website and the dyad of theoretical categories of relative deprivation and gratification were used to meet the research goals. The research shows that the leaders consistently created the image of their goals. Nevertheless, manifestations of relative deprivation and gratification occurred only immediately after the movement was established and during its first anniversary. They were not dependent on external stimuli in the form of stages of legislative processes. Deprivations served to discursive self-legitimisation of the movement, and gratuities to manifest organisational success. During the second period, when these types of attitudes appeared, i.e., after the rejection of the first draft in the second reading, the leaders discursively self-legitimised the movement and expressed a sense of organisational success and satisfaction of the need for social recognition. This means that the movement was not satisfied with the performance of its goals, and the efforts to neutralise relative deprivation did not motivate political activity of Gals for Gals.

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