Czechia near bottom of EU ladder in gender equality
The annual Gender Equality Index report amongst EU member states was released recently, with Czechia placing 25th out of the 27 EU member states. The report ranks nations based on factors such as power, money, and education to understand the position of women in society. To learn more about the situation in Czechia, I spoke with Lucie Hrdá, a feminist and lawyer based in Prague specializing in sexual and domestic violence.
“I think that it is a very touchy subject – if you mention it, you’re labelled as an angry feminist. This is one of the main problems, if you don’t talk about it, the issue will not just vanish, and in fact it will continue to grow. We don’t talk about the consequences of one of the longest maternity leaves here in Czechia, we don’t talk about pay gaps or the mental load that women take on, we just don’t talk about these issues.”
I want to ask what you see as the factors that are fuelling this gender inequity in Czechia?
“The problem is that in the Czech Republic women are still considered to be the main caregivers of children. If you are considering hiring an employee, if it’s a woman you are probably thinking about how she will leave for eight to twelve years because of her maternity leave if she has three children. We aren’t thinking about split maternity leave between parents, we don’t think about shared employment for mothers. It’s all about how we think of these things systematically.”
Do you see important stakeholders within Czech society, for example the government or employers tackling this inequality head on?
“I think that it’s a shame for the Czech Republic to be in one of the last places on the scale in terms of gender equality. We need to be talking about this more, but the problem is, for our government it is really not a priority at the moment. If we do not identify it as a problem, then we don’t have stakeholders who think this is something that we need to fix.”
When it comes to generations of women here, do you find the newer generation is becoming more aggressive and placing more importance on talking about these issues?
“I think the younger generations are really calling for change. But the problem is, our government is focussing on the older generations because they are the voters right now. I think that there is going to be a mental shift where there is more of a focus on the younger generation, because they are going to be the ones who decide on things and lead our economy. Many young women are educated and do not want to be at home for 12 years with their kids – they need more opportunities in work, in kindergartens, and pre-schools. These are the things we need to focus on.”