A woman rising to lead the political fight against a dictator; a mother defending her right to love her children; a woman combating systemic corruption in the workplace; women volunteering their free time to the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union…
The list goes on. Today, women fighting for a cause in Lithuania is not only no longer surprising, it is taken for granted. But this was not always the case. Indeed, the past two centuries that are the focus of the exhibition Women Warriors, was a time of transformation in every sense. Women were liberating themselves from social stereotypes, fighting for emancipation and, having secured their rights, they also took on responsibilities, joining directly in the struggle for freedom. There was no shortage of such struggles in Lithuania in the 19th and 20th centuries, and that is why the voluntary role of women in that effort only further strengthened the right to their rights.
The women’s struggle was chosen freely. Since they were not obligated by mobilization or compulsory service, they undertook a diversity of forms and means to wage their fight: wearing mourning clothes during an uprising, braiding secret messages into their hair, dragging a machine gun from the battlefield, tirelessly pedalling a bicycle fashioned with a secret compartment, cutting a cable, staging a prison camp hunger strike that captured the attention of President Ronald Reagan, engaging in constant and relentless conspiratorial activity behind enemy lines, spending two decades over a typewriter, and, to be sure, wielding actual weapons.
The stories of the women warriors presented in this exhibition demolish the stereotype that battles are solely the realm of men: Armed and unarmed struggle, support and assistance, and active and less visible resistance led to significant and equal contributions and even influences that forced (and continue to compel) a rethinking of gender roles.
It is symbolic that this exhibition is mounted at Lukiškės Prison, because this institution could have been – and for some did actually become – the endpoint of their voluntary choice to resist, the place of their detention and imprisonment. And while visitors are invited to explore stories about struggles that are now part of history, this exhibition opens at a most timely moment, as the contribution of women is once again becoming vitally important to the fight for freedom in neighbouring countries.
For this reason, the prison cells that will remain closed during this exhibition suggest a conclusion: The number of stories is so great that most remain untold or are only now unfolding.
Where and how?
The exhibition “Women Warriors” will run at Lukiškės Prison (Lukiškių skg. 6) from 19 May to 4 December (except 17–19 June)
The exhibition will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 12:00 to 18:00 for self-guided exploration (6 EUR per person) or guided tours (10 EUR per person).
Tickets can be purchased through the bilietai.lt system (LINK) or at the ticket terminal in Lukiškės Prison.
This exhibition is not entitled to free visit on last Sunday of every month.