Czechia's new First Lady wants to focus on single mothers and divorce

Eva Pavlová and Petr Pavel

On Thursday, Czechia will welcome a new First Lady to Prague Castle – Eva Pavlová. But who is she? And what role does the First Lady play in Czech politics and public life?

Some Czech First Ladies have been very active in the public sphere. Charlotte Garrigue, the wife of the first Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, was a vocal supporter of women’s issues, and advocated for equal voting rights for women to be enshrined in the fledgling state’s Constitution.

Eva Pavlová | Photo: René Volfík,

Her oldest daughter Alice, who took over the role of First Lady when Charlotte became too ill to continue with public life, founded the Czechoslovak Red Cross, which she led for twenty years.

Other First Ladies have continued the tradition of being involved in charitable activities, including both the first and second wives of Václav Havel. Olga Havlová and Dagmar Havlová each set up their own charitable foundations to help the disadvantaged.

However, not all First Ladies have been quite so active – Viera Husáková, the wife of the last Czechoslovak Communist president, Gustáv Husák and Ivana Zemanová, the wife of outgoing president Miloš Zeman, mostly stayed out of public life. The First Lady's secretariat, which had been used by presidents’ wives since Olga Havlová's time, was even closed down three years ago due to inactivity.

Václav Havel with his wife Olga | Photo: Ondřej Němec,  Výbor dobré vůle,  CC BY 4.0

So how will the new First Lady, Eva Pavlová, approach her role? Does she plan to follow in the vein of Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk and Olga Havlová, or will she be more of an Ivana Zemanová?

Ms. Pavlová has publicly stated that she wants to be involved in charitable work, and in an interview for the TV channel Prima, she mentioned some specific cause areas she wants to support:

“Educating children to be responsible, communication in the family, reducing the number of divorces, strengthening the position of women in society and care for the elderly.”

She also acknowledged that her new position allows her to lead by example.

“At the same time, I also realize that this is a unique opportunity to strengthen the role of the First Lady and thereby strengthen the position of women and the family.”

A cause that is particularly close to her heart is single mothers – she herself raised her daughter from her first marriage on her own. She also mentioned other areas relating to women and the family which she wants to focus on, such as discrimination and divorce:

Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“I was very surprised to find out what a high divorce rate we have in this country. I think that education around this topic, such as communication within the family, should already begin in primary school. To guide the children step by step, so that divorces later in life don’t occur.”

Eva Pavlová and Petr Pavel are, incidentally, both each other’s second spouse. They first met in the mid-1980s at a military base in Prostějov, but they only married in 2004, after their previous marriages ended.

Eva holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Czech Army and both she and her husband worked in the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, where she communicated with foreign military and air force attachés in the Czech Republic.