Maria Dulębianka (Engl)- written and presented in Krakau by Kasia Adamczyk
My name is Maria Dulębianka, Alabanda coat of arms. I was born on October 21st 1861 in Cracow. I’m a polish activist, painter, writer, publicist but above all I’m a feminist.
Up until 1872 I had been living in Cracow. I graduated from the Maliszewska’s finishing school and I was studying painting under the directorship of Jan Matejko. Due to having no option of studying in the Cracow’s Academy of Fine Arts which at that time was approving only men, I was forced to do it privately. I left Poland to be able to continue studying painting. I attended Academie Julian in Paris under the directorship of Carolus Duran. I was also studying in Vienna in the latter part of the XIXth century and I was a student of Wojciech Gerson in Warsaw.
Women were the main theme of many of my works. I was mostly known from painting portaits and petit genre’ images (Sama jedna 1886, Sieroca dola 1889, Pod płotem 1890). Polish Museum in Rapperswil was in the possession of my portrait of Maria Konopnicka which is currently located in the National Museum in Warsaw. I received mention honorable for my works such as Na pokoucie and Sieroca dola during an international exhibition in Paris.
In 1889 I got to know Maria Konopnicka thanks to whom I started to be more and more devoted to efforts in the interest of equal rights for women. Along with Maria we lived together, we travelled a lot, mostly using bicycles. Unfortunately, in 1910 my partner died. I organised her funeral which soon after became a huge, patriotic manifesto of the Polish part of society living in Lwów.
I was an activist of the feminism’s first wave. When I was 24 years old I started to fight for women’s right to attend Cracow’s Academy of Fine Arts. Then, it was a privilidge we were deprived of. While being in Lwów I joined emancipatory environments. I was publishing in the feminist STER on a regular basis. I tried to fight for the establishment of girls only middle school in Lwów so that girls could have the same possibilities of being well educated as boys.
I was deeply engaged in politics and because of that I was taking part in many conventions during which I was delivering speeches. In 1899 in Zakopane for example I had a reading titled Why is women’s movement growing so slowly? In 1902 I delivered a speech on women’s artictic creation which became an inspiration for my work titiled About women’s creation which I published a year later.
In a paper Political stance of a woman, delivered by me in 1907 I declaired against militarism and capitalism simultaneously pointing other problems out as well: but above militarism and capitalism, a greater enemy due to its close and daily nature, seems to be every harm, every oppression, every deceit and every iniquity, against those enemies we ought to lead a great and perseverant crusade.
I drew people’s attention to dangerous behavior of party speakers who by goading competition had thirsted to gain election votes without actually and truly fighting for the citizens’ freedom.
In 1908 I wanted to contest a seat to be a representative in the Galician Parliment with the support from The People’s Party and Koło Oświatowe Postępowych Kobiet – I made a great speech which met with a standing ovation from both women and men auditorium. Nevertheless, my candidacy was turned down ’due to formal reasons’ as it was frequently excused at that times.
In 1911 I began editing ’Women’s voice’ which was devoted to women’s equal rights. Item, I was a founder and a leader of Women’s Electoral Committee for the City Council of Lwów (1911) as well as Women’s Committee of Civil Work (1912).
I’m familiar with problems of every social stratrum. We ought to be concerned for the weakest, for those who aren’t able to fight for themselves. In the Streeter’s Club, a formation responsible for helping orphanes, homeless children along with volunteers we were providing security and we created cooking for the poor.
In the year of 1918, after Polish suffragettes came by the right to vote for women in Poland, I was chosen to be a leader of The Supreme Council of Women’s League. I was a memeber of the women’s delegation, on behalf of which I gave a speech at an adudience of Józef Piłsudski.
As a city councilwoman of Lwów, on January 26th 1919 together with Maria Opieńska and countess Teodozja Dzieduszycka, we were the Red Cross’es and the Temporary Government Committee’s delegates to examine a situation of captives and those who were interned in Ukrainian camps in order to help Polish soldiers. Our journey was very taugh and dangerous, we had to move despite freezing weather often using intermittenly shuttling trains. From Polish captives many of whom were ill I cought spotted typhus which became a cause of my death on March 7th 1919. My funeral turned out to have been one of the greatest mouring manifestos attended by many women, including single mothers and my associates.
At this juncture I’m erased from the Polish history. My name cannot be found among painters, say nothing of Polish politicians. Bravery of my actions and my enormous devotion to Polish and Ukrainian issues both have no meaning whatsoever. It is futile to look for my biography in history libraries and in a biography of my live partner Maria Konopnicka you may barely find a mention about me.