EU delegation urges Czech Republic to make gender equality a priority

In light of International Women's Day, representatives of the EU delegation in Prague took the opportunity on Friday to call on the Czech Republic to concentrate on women's rights and make it a priority to give them equal opportunities in today's society. On average, about one quarter of ministers within the fifteen EU member states are women. In the Czech Republic, however, there is not a single female in a ministerial post. By Dita Asiedu.

Statistics show that woman get two thirds of the salaries of men despite the fact that they occupy posts that require the same skills. Jana Outratova lived in Canada for twenty-three years and has also visited the United States on numerous occasions. She is now back in the Czech Republic, trying to use what she has learned abroad to create networks of women that will lobby self-support groups to tackle the issue of women's rights in the country. Dita Asiedu spoke with Mrs Outratova about the current situation of gender equality:

"Women don't support each other in a network like men do and those women who make it to the top pull up the ladder with them. They don't spend any energy on helping those who did not make it yet and that is a feature that is universal."

Employers say that women get less money because they are not as qualified as men. Sometimes, that is not the case. Have any women who have been in that position actually done something about it, taken their employers to court, for example?

"No. Women are avoiding to be seen as trouble makers and it is much worse here than in the West. Women are not assertive enough as far as their rights are concerned."

What about the female shadow cabinet?

"Unfortunately the politicians, especially the Prime Minister, played a trick with them and invited them all for lunch and they went. Showing, as a joke, that there are qualified women in all spheres, where they would qualify for the ministers' positions, was a very good step but it unfortunately did not get any further. I know many of the women and I can say that they are really professionally good."

Why would you say did it fail to go further, to promote women's rights?

"It would have meant a real struggle because Jana Volfova would have had to say 'well, I am a shadow Prime Minister' which means to fight with her boss in her own party, so she didn't dare to go that far."

Critics say that it is not in Czech women's genes to actually strive for a more lucrative job, for a bigger career.

"No. This may be a bias caused by the Communist regime because in the Communist regime you could have had ambitions if you wanted to sell your soul to the Communist Party. If not, you were a martyr or just nobody and you had to accept your luck."