What’s going on round the world? Contemporary Media Cultures student Wiktoria Nieradzik posted this in October 2016 on her blog

It started off with a hashtag, #blackmonday #blackprotest which then transferred into the real life. Shortly after, on the 3rd of October about 150 thousands of women marched through the streets of Poland, having a mass strike as a response to a proposed total ban on abortion by the Polish government.
Abortion is already restricted in Poland since early 1993, but a new policy change that was supposed to occur would ban it almost completely, affecting even rape survivors, adolescents and those with cases of fetal abnormalities. Miscarriages would have to be investigated, and anyone who happens to be ‘criminal’ and has an illegal abortion would have to eventually face prison. This potential and so radical and extreme modification of the abortion policy has triggered a major social response from Polish and European citizens. This is due to the fact that Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, and this change would absolutely devastate the freedom of women, leaving them with no choice about their lives and bodies, which is simply seen as barbaric.
The battle of Polish women has begun – it was obvious and almost natural that they could not allow this to happen and they had to do something. The social media has played a major rule throughout this manifesto. At the begging, they only had a simple hashtag (#blackprotest) that was effectively circulating around social networks such as Facebook or Instagram. Thousands of women were posting pictures in black clothing with captions stating this particular hashtag or changing their profile pictures on social media to a plain black square. They have chosen this colour due to its connotations; black, symbolising death or mourning. The death of the freedom and dignity of Polish women. Then they organised protests all around the country, which took place on a Monday afternoon (hence #blackmonday), all dressed in black and united in the inner power that we all have. This power was enough to stop the government; few days after the strike, lawmakers voted against the new law. However, this is not the end. Thankfully, we still have enough courage to fight against all these oppressive ideologies, which are deeply-rooted in our society.

My amazing close friend Julianna, aged 17, took part in the protest in our hometown, in southwestern Poland. ‘I could not imagine not attending the protest, I could not imagine not joining the fight‘, she said to me when I asked her how she felt. ‘Simply because it was not only about the proposed changes in our law (which sucks right now anyway), but also about showing that women will not be silenced, but will stand strong when it comes to taking basic human rights away from us.’

KEEP YOUR ROSARIES OFF MY OVARIES 

Julianna: The #blackmonday itself was one of the saddest as well as one of the happiest day in my life so far. I have never felt this empowered and never have I seen so many women uniting in order to achieve something together. So many people in my school, even those which are usually not very opinionated or open with their political views, decided to wear black and join the protest. We left school early that day and were making transparent together, talking, singing, shouting and signing petitions and letters. Together. Some people brought food and shared it within our groupWhat moved me, was the age diversity-obviously most of us were between 16-25 years old, but you could also see women with kids, women over 70 and women in their middle-age.

 Some said that #blackmonday wouldn’t have any impact, it wouldn’t change anything. But it did. And it did not only show the politicians currently governing our country that we, women, are strong and unstoppable, but it also showed us, women ourselves, that united we are strong and empowered and we can achieve great things.
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