Interview with Martyna Kowol - Being European for the Young Generation of Women in Poland

By Capucine Goyet | 28 July 2013

To quote this document: Capucine Goyet, “Interview with Martyna Kowol - Being European for the Young Generation of Women in Poland”, Nouvelle Europe [en ligne], Sunday 28 July 2013, http://www.nouvelle-europe.eu/node/1723, displayed on 21 April 2018

Business O Feminin has interviewed Martyna Kowol, a current member of Nouvelle Europe, for a study dedicated to the young generation of women in the EU. Martyna Kowol is currently preparing her thesis on China and EU economic diplomacy. She graduated in European studies and her area of interest is cooperation between Europe and less developed countries and emerging powers. She has worked as an intern at the Documentation Centre for Third World Studies and the Hubert Védrine Conseil in Paris. And she loves organising spontaneous trips and spending time in nature.

1- How would you define yourself?

An adventurous, open-minded optimist who likes challenges.

2- Do you feel European, if yes in which sense? And if not why?

I was born and grew up in Silesia, a Polish region with a strong identity. Therefore, since I was a child, a multiple identity was a natural thing to me. I felt Silesian and Polish at the same time. Later when I started travelling - first with my parents and then with friends and alone- I began to feel that I was a part of a bigger entity. In every country I went to, I felt like at home. The places were new but I was able to “tame” them very quickly. I have never had the same feeling while travelling to other continents.

3- What do you associate the European Union with?

The first elements that come to my mind are: stability, peace, respect for human life and human rights, opportunities.

4- Do you speak other foreign languages beside your mother tongue? Which one(s)? What other European languages would you like to learn and why?

I speak Polish, English, French, and Spanish and have basic Italian and German. I have just passed the first level of Chinese language proficiency test. I love learning languages. I would love speaking Portuguese too, and maybe Swedish? They sound beautiful to me. 

5- Would you live in another Member State of the EU? Which one(s) and why?

I would like to live at least for one year in every single European country! The places where we live change us. Our new friends change us. The surroundings change us. Martyna who left France and moved to Spain is different from Martyna who came to Paris three years earlier. And Martyna who moves back to Poland after one year spent in the south of Europe isn’t the same girl as she was when her plane landed at the airport of Barcelona. I find it very enriching.

6- How do you see today’s European Union? In the future? 

I see the European Union as a very attractive organization. A place where one can develop oneself. I’m angry seeing headlines saying there is no more sense in the EU and it will collapse soon. The EU is a beautiful project that we should work on.

As for its future I think the most important thing for me is that the EU becomes a strong promoter of ecological awareness and sustainable living all over the world.

7- Your main concerns?

One of a few things I am afraid of is xenophobia. It’s so irrational, but spreading so easily. I can’t understand how people living next to each other in peace can suddenly become enemies. And I see more and more such cases.

8- How would you describe the new female generation (20 to 35 years old) in your country? 

Polish girls are gaining self-confidence. They are more and more aware of their skills, abilities, talents. They are hard-working and have ambitions, set goals and achieve them. However I feel that they are still too attached to material possessions and they are not very familiar with the concept of “joie de vivre”. It will change with the time, I’m sure!

9- How do you feel about gender balance issues? How does it work in your country? To what extent is the issue highlighted?

These issues are really important. The gender equalities are so deeply rooted in our European societies- especially the eastern and southern ones- that many people still take them as something natural. Poles’ minds are under quite strong influence of the Catholic Church which fights for maintaining traditional gender roles. We still need some time to transform our thinking. The good thing is that gender studies are becoming more and more popular at universities, the gender topics appear more often in media, and since 2001 we have been having a post of government plenipotentiary for equal treatment. It helps  change the image of the Polish feminist who is aggressive, vulgar, hates men and doesn’t want to have children.

10- Is there a European woman you admire the most and why?

I’ve been always quite careful with the estimation of other people’s words and behaviours. I think that for admiring somebody we need a deeper knowledge of this person. That’s why my favourite European woman is my mother. She puts her heart in all she does. She’s moral and full of empathy. Great boss, great mum and wife, great person- an example to follow.

Further reading

On Business O Feminin

On Nouvelle Europe

Sources photos: © Businessofeminin et © Martyna Kowol

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