A Polish welder and crane operator in 1980 at the then Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, but first and foremost a symbol of the Solidarity Movement, Anna Walentynowicz has been listed among the top 100 most influential women of the past century by the US’ “Time” weekly.
The weekly dubbed Anna Walentynowicz the “Mother of Polish Independence” as it was her activism that urged communist authorities to fire her, which in turn brought about a series of events leading up to a general strike in the shipyard and elsewhere in communist-ruled Poland.
This culminated in the Gdańsk Agreement, which allowed for the establishment of the Solidarity Movement, which was the first free-trade union not just in communist Poland but also in the East European countries that found themselves behind the iron curtain.
“The triumph in Gdańsk precipitated the fall of communism, a decade later. It also led generations of Poles to see Walentynowicz as the mother of their independence,” wrote the “Time”.
The weekly’s article is part of a series describing the most influential women of the past century - 100 Women of the Year. The series is to compensate for the fact that the titles of the person of the year were given mainly to men over many years.
Anna Walentynowicz died along the then President Lech Kaczyński and 94 other passengers and crew members of the presidential plane that crashed in Smolensk, Russia on April 10, 2010.