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Czech women
December 11, 2015

Position of Czech women improved in past 20 years

Czech Women´s Lobby gives positive assessment of current government 

Prague, Dec 11 (ČTK) The position of women markedly improved in the Czech Republic in the past 20 years, and many positive changes took place since 2008, but some ministers still approach gender equality formally and play down inequality, according to a report the Czech Women´s Lobby presented today.

In its shadow report, the Women´s Lobby praised the present center-left Cabinet for its gender equality strategy outlining measures to be taken by 2020.

“Unlike the previous governments, which neglected or even boycotted the gender equality agenda, the present one tends to support the equality as a key principle of a democratic and prospering society,” says the report completed by a team of 24 experts from various branches.

The report focuses on the period since 2008.

Two center-right Cabinets and two interim ones ruled the country from 2006 to early 2014 when the present Cabinet was appointed.

The report praises the performance of the present Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (Social Democrats, ČSSD) and of the gender equality department at the Government Office.

The Cabinet’s gender equality strategy until 2020 is a “quality document” projecting measures that are concrete enough, the report´s authors write, adding that they believe that the planned measures will really be implemented.

On the other hand, the report criticisms the Czech Cabinet’s negative stance on the European directive on a balanced representation of women and men on the supervisory boards of big companies.

The Czech Cabinet supported the directive, though narrowly, at the beginning of December.

The Women Lobby’s report also reproaches the Cabinet for delaying the Czech signature of the Istanbul convention on combating violence against women, and for rejecting a proposal that financial compensation be granted to unlawfully sterilized women.

“The [state’s] sluggishness in these long-discussed areas must mainly be ascribed to political unwillingness,” the report says.

It says some ministers approach the agenda formally or even belittle it. Generally, the promotion of equality is viewed as an secondary goal rather than a basic condition, the report says.

The financing of the agenda, largely based on European sources, is problematic. Some issues are not dealt with because they are not compatible with any of the European-subsidized programs, the report´s editor, Irena Smetáčková, told a press conference today.

Another author, Tomáš Pavlas, said projects focusing on awareness campaigns are lacking.

“We still remain under the influence of prejudices and stereotypes,” Pavlas said.

He said only a fraction of all activities has been financed directly from the Czech state budget.

The volume of subsidies from the EU and the Norway Grants is sufficient, but the relevant financing schedules threaten to cause year-long gaps in the subsidies flowing to NGOs, which may endanger some projects, Pavlas said.

To further improve the situation, politicians should cooperate with academicians and NGOs, whom they should support through adequate legislation and remuneration, the report says.

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