Czech Human Rights Minister races for equal opportunities between men and women
Today, 19 June, the Czech Women's Lobby is holding its traditional "happening", called "Do we have the same chances?" The organization's "race for equality" in Prague will be attended by Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier.
Dienstbier will join the chair of the Czech Women's Lobby, Jana Chržová, in the relay race. The event is aimed at the broader public and at winning support for figures who speak openly about the issues of equal opportunities between men and women and women's rights.
The Czech Women's Lobby represents 28 gender organizations from all over the Czech Republic. During the next few weeks Minister Dienstbier will be taking over responsibility for the country's equal opportunities policy from the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry.
The "equal opportunities" race is the notional start of the transfer of this agenda. Dienstbier believes the step is a logical one, because the topic necessarily requires a coordinator at cabinet level.
"Harmonization of people's private and professional lives and the institution of equal conditions between both sexes is needed. What household today can afford to live on only one salary? Why, for example, should a woman with the same qualifications be paid less than a man? That's the reason I came to support this race. It's an interesting way to draw attention to the topic and to reopen discussion of it with nonprofit organizations, politicians, and society," said Dienstbier, who chairs the Government Council for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men at the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry.
The minister's participation in the race is seen as a positive signal by Eva Kavková, vice-chair of the Czech Women's Lobby. "The fact that a minister in the current Government is participating in this race is a sign for us that after several years of ignoring it, the Government will no longer be taking the question of discrimination and the unequal position of women lightly and will push through measures that will have an actual impact in real life. The Czech Women's Lobby has been proposing this for many years now," Kavková said.
The race is also being supported by Petra Křížková, a Czech Television moderator who is also the mother of a 19-month-old son, Matyáš. She knows well what it is like to be a mother working full-time while regularly enjoying the adrenaline rush of moderating the "News in Culture" program for the public broadcaster.
"I returned to work when my little boy was five months old. What's it like to come to the office with wet tissues, pieces of rolls or biscuits, and sometimes old diapers from the morning walk in your purse and then transform yourself into a focused moderator? Strangely enough it works rather well, but you have to be brave and have the support of your employer and your family," Křížková said.
The moderator went on to add that it has always been a big dream of hers to try to "run her life like a man" for at least one day. By visiting today's race, the public too can test whether men and women enjoy the same chances on the labor market, in harmonizing their family and work lives, in taking care of their households and their professional careers, in getting custody of children, and in attaining a dignified and secure old age.
The average wage for a man in the Czech Republic is CZK 28 916 monthly, resulting in an average retirement pension of CZK 11 947, while the average wage for a woman is only CZK 22 683 monthly and her retirement pension is CZK 9 777. Women retire earlier with less money, a fact caused by the years they spend caring for their children.
Today's race was scheduled to take place on Karlovo náměstí in Prague beneath the gaze of the statue of Eliška Krásnohorská, the fighter for women's rights, and to present five different end points symbolizing the various life courses of men and women. It was to have been launched at 15:30 by Minister Dienstbier and Czech Women's Lobby chair Jana Chržová and to remain open to the public until 17:30 after the initial "ministerial" round.
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