What, then, is the Women’s Congress ? 

At the outset of our operations, we were perceived as a fairly controversial institution, one which gave rise to plenty of emotions. Fortunately, people have since come around to appreciating the important societal role which we play. Most importantly, the Women’s Congress isn’t just an initiative which poses questions for public debate, we are actually capable of making things happen. To wit, the legislative Act regarding gender ballot quotas is a brainchild of the Women’s Congress.

This year will see the fifth iteration of the Congress. The previous event was held under the slogan “Action, entrepreneurship, independence”. We addressed issues associated with entrepreneurship among women and activisation of women in different professional fields. We had over 7,500 participants ! This year, the Congress will be held under the slogan “partnership, solidarity, diversity” invoking, among others, modern patriotism in the broad sense of the term. One of the panels will be entitled “Business as a partner of culture ?”. The point is that, these days, supporting cultural endeavours is a manifestation of patriotic feeling and a duty of not only state institutions, but first and foremost of private ones.

Apart from the role of business in fostering culture, what other matters does the Women’s Congress occupy itself with ? 

Issues of equality, equal rights, partnership, domestic abuse, the need for social solidarity, the rights of people over 50... There are many disparate themes but, then again, the Congress has set itself the goal of addressing all areas of social life of relevance to women.

You have committed yourself to private patronage of the arts also outside of the Women’s Congress. 

I am a lawyer, I run a law firm, but – at the same time – for almost twenty years I have involved myself in initiatives connected with culture. The GESSEL Foundation which we established for the National Museum in Warsaw more than fifteen years ago helped to assemble funds for enlarging the collection. And, mind you, those were the days before business developed any sort of serious interest in supporting culture. We succeeded in amassing and bequeathing for this purpose more than PLN 400,000. Today, the value of the works which, thanks to us, augmented the National Museum in Warsaw collections substantially exceeds PLN 1 million, so this has been a good allocation of resources also from a purely business perspective. We are very proud that seven of “our” works are now on permanent display at the Museum’s Gallery of 20th and 21st Century Art. We have also established a legal aid programme for artists and, this year, we established a foundation for Zachęta with the purpose of creating a scholarship programme for people who write about art, for young critics. We offer them support, provided that their writings are somehow connected with Zachęta’s events and exhibitions. This programme is currently at the consultation and competition preparation stage, and we expect to have it up and running before the end of the year.