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Czech Charter 77 signatory and sociologist Jiřina Šiklová has passed away, advocated for Romani equality

23.5.2021 9:53
Jiřina Šiklová (PHOTO:  David Sedlecký, Wikimedia Commons)
Jiřina Šiklová (PHOTO: David Sedlecký, Wikimedia Commons)

News server Aktuálně.cz has reported that Jiřina Šiklová, the gender studies advocate, signatory of Charter 77, and sociologist, has passed away at the age of 85. Her son confirmed her death to the news server yesterday. 

During the normalization era in communist Czechoslovakia Ms Šiklová assisted with the export of banned literature by authors still inside the country and the import of banned literature by Czechoslovak authors living in exile. She spent a year in prison in 1981 for doing so. 

After 1989 she established the Department of Social Work at Charles University in Prague. In lecture plans at social science faculties all over the Czech Republic she advocated for gender and the relationship between the sexes as an issue and a subject. 
 
The first Gender Studies library in the country was created in her apartment and over time developed into the biggest library on that topic in Central and Eastern Europe. "I am a watchdog who is involved, who has the feeling something can be changed," she said of herself in June 2015 in an interview for the Czech News Agency. 

Speaking of her activity during the 1970s and 1980s in that interview, she described herself not as a dissident, but as somebody doing her best to conserve the culture of Czechoslovakia. It was not until after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that she was able to return to her profession. 

While she had many reservations about the subsequent developments in the Czech Republic, she was also satisfied with the state of society. "There is freedom here, people are able to get involved," Ms Šiklová, who was essentially a realist, said just over five years ago.

"That's fine, that's enough for me," she said in the interview. In her view, none of the systems in the world were ideal and no ideal systems even exist.

Ms Šiklová was a strong advocate of equality for Romani people in society. In 2007 she collaborated with the ROMEA organization, lecturing for young Romani journalists.

"The news of Jiřina Šiklová passing away has made me genuinely sad. I have admired her bravery since I was a student," the founder of the ROMEA organization, Jarmila Balážová, told news server Romea.cz.

"When we got to know each other and spent time together, I admired her zeal, her determination, her energy. Every discussion engulfed her, drew her in, because she cared about the development of democracy, civil society, the involvement of women in politics, the position of Romani people in society," Balážová said. 

"I had the opportunity to interview her many times and we also met up at different discussions and book signings. The last time I saw her I even photographed her dancing with Martin Palouš at the launch of Emil Ščuka's book," Balážová recalled.

"Her energy was admirable. Once she told me how she did exercises every day, and I also loved her sense of humor, which was sometimes almost crushing," Balážová said.

"She will be missed very much. May the eternal light shine for her and mi del O Del lake lóki phuv," Balážová said.   

Jana Horváthová, director of the Museum of Romani Culture, posted the following to Facebook upon hearing of Ms Šiklová's death:  "I have admired her for more than 30 years, she was keenly intelligent, funny, wise, beautiful, energetic, perfect. I did think she would be with us for a few more years, but she lived a full life. Jiřino, I will always love you very much."  

Ms Šiklová was the author of several books and published in dozens of professional journals. In 1995 she received a Women of Europe award, which is given in Brussels to women who have contributed to European integration; four years after that, Czech President Václav Havel gave her the Medal of Merit

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Education, Osobnosti, pedagogové, úmrtí



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