New learning project promoting women’s participation in politics


The Forum 50 % civic group promoting women’s participation in public life and politics has launched a new online learning project entitled “Otevrena Univerzita” or “Open University”. One of the principal aims of the projects is to improve the political culture in the Czech Republic and make it more attractive for women politicians. Milus Kotisova is one of the people behind the project.

“It’s a pilot project. Currently we are offering four modules. The university is trying motivate and to help women to become more politically active. So it’s in general a political empowerment project for women but it’s also open to male students. But this project is also hoping to reform the political culture in the Czech Republic from the outside. Because we think the political culture as it is, the aggressiveness the vulgar statements, the behaviour of the politicians, it’s just not inviting for women.”

Will the students receive any recognition, any diplomas?

“That’s a good question. We’ve had debates about this. And the decision is that no, the students won’t receive any certificate. The reason for this being that we are not an accredited institution. Also the purpose of this university is quite different; it’s non-hierarchical. Both tutors and students are on an equal footing. Tutors are also students at the same time while students are also tutors. We expect to be active and help improve the materials because the university offers a lot of courses that are currently not offered by any standard university.”

How will you find out whether the project is effective? Will you get any feedback?

“There will be plenty of feedback because the students will have to be active. They will have to rework the materials and leave their imprints on the materials. And we will have a very active exchange between the current politicians and the women that are interested in becoming more politically active. For instance we’ll have a mentorship programme, so the existing politicians will be offering their experience and sharing their experience with women who are interested.”

Is this a first project of its kind or have you run similar projects in the past?

“In this form it’s definitely a pilot project. Nothing of this kind has been done in the Czech Republic before. But Forum 50 % that runs this project started politically empowerment workshops for women in 2006. So far we have organised eight workshops and they have been very successful. It’s obvious that it is very useful because a lot of women who took part in the workshops are now actively involved in politics.”