Young women drinking too much is partly to blame for Poland’s low birth rate, the country’s ruling party leader has said.
In remarks which have sparked outrage and have been branded as “insulting” to women, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he does not favour “very early motherhood” because a woman must mature before having children.
The leader of the populist ruling party Law and Justice said if women abuse alcohol up to the age of 25, then “it’s not a good prognosis in these matters”.
“And here it is sometimes necessary to say a little openly, some bitter things. If, for example, the situation remains such that, until the age of 25, girls, young women, drink the same amount as their peers, there will be no children,” said Mr Kaczynski.
He added that the average man “to develop alcoholism has to drink excessively for 20 years” and “a woman only two”.
“I am really a sincere supporter of women’s equality, but I am not a supporter of women pretending to be men, and men pretending to be women, because this is something completely different,” he said.
Mr Kaczynski made the comment at the weekend as he travelled around the country seeking to rally support for his party ahead of next year’s parliamentary election.
Opposition politicians and other critics accused the 73-year-old, a lifelong bachelor, of being out of touch – and himself partly responsible for the low birth rate in the central European nation of 38 million people.
Some pointed to restrictions on abortion that have discouraged some women from having children.
Others noted the difficulty young people have in raising families due to rising costs in a country where inflation is now at nearly 18%.
When one government representative argued on a TV talk show that alcohol’s influence on fertility is actually a legitimate matter for debate, an opposition politician, Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz, responded: “This is not a debate, it is insulting Polish women.”
Mr Kaczynski defended himself, saying that “an honest politician, if he knows such a thing, must talk about it”.
The number of births per woman in Poland has fallen from 3 in 1960 to 1.32 in 2021, according to Polish state data, which is low but still higher than some other European countries.