Elena Gorolová: I was shocked to be included among the BBC's 100 inspirational women of 2018
Elena Gorolová, an Ostrava-based social worker, was shocked to be included among the BBC's 100 influential and inspirational women of the year 2018. She comprehends this honor not just as an appreciation of her work, but also a form of satisfaction.
As news server Romea.cz has reported, the ranking is regularly compiled by BBC television. The 49-year-old Romani resident of Ostrava did not know she would be included until the very last moment this year.
The BBC has expressed appreciation primarily for Gorolová's fight to achieve compensation for women who have been sterilized against their will. She has personal experience of such treatment herself.
Doctors sterilized her without her consent at the age of 21. She had just given birth to her second son.
Today she is a field worker for the public benefit association Life Together (Vzájemné soužití). In that role she does her best to return children living in state-run children's homes back to their families of origin.
"We also strive to make sure children never end up in those homes," she said. Since her youth she has been involved in fighting for the rights of the women who were sterilized without their consent both before and after 1989.
Doctors performed the operations without the women being fully aware of their consequences. "I know of 200 women. I am in personal contact with 100 of them," she said.
Even though she has already achieved partial successes, Gorolová does not consider the fight to be over. "It is a success that the practice has changed. Today involuntary sterilizations are no longer done. There must be a longer waiting period between giving birth and undergoing such a surgery so the woman can think it all over and discuss it with her family," she said.
The women she is representing have also already seen an apology. In 2009 the Government expressed regret for these illegal interventions.
However, those subjected to this treatment have yet to receive the compensation they are seeking. Gorolová says the women afflicted by this treatment are not just Romani.
"We also have women from the majority society among us. That's good. The public can't perceive this just as a Romani problem. This is a problem for all of society," she said.
Being sterilized absolutely altered Gorolová's life. The change was not just about the work she has done which has now resulted in her being included on this prestigious list of inspirational women.
Her personal life was impacted as well. "To this day I am traumatized by the fact that somebody else decided my fate without my agreement. I think about it a lot," she admits.
Gorolová and her husband, who has always supported her in her activities, had always longed to have a daughter. "We wanted a little girl. After our two sons we would have wanted one more child - not any more than that. I myself am just one of two children," she said.
She has not yet absolutely given up on her dream of rocking a little girl to sleep in her arms, though. She believes she will at least have a granddaughter from one of her sons in the years to come.
Gorolová is the only Czech citizen on the BBC list this year. Some of the other most inspirational women are, for example, the 65-year-old fashion designer Judith Balcaz, who has begun designing special underwear for incontinent women, or the 23-year-old blogger Chider Eggerue, who decided to raise the self- confidence of millions of women through social networks by fighting for the ordinary forms of women's bodies to be depicted in the media.
The list also includes 33-year-old Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin of Nigeria, who established a company teaching young girls to create and program websites. You can watch Ms Gorolová tell the story of her life so far in the interview below, filmed by ROMEA as part of its Memory of the Roma project - turn on the English subtitles by clicking on the gear icon.
- ROMEA to Czech President: Romani life in communist Czechoslovakia included forced assimilation, forced sterilization of women, segregated education
- Czech PM meets with forced sterilization victims and their representatives about compensation
- Czech Republic: Forced sterilization will be focus of academic and public discussions
- Czech and Slovak Victims of Coercive Sterilization Await Justice
- Czech researcher at Romani genocide commemoration: Compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations
- Report on the coerced sterilization of Romani women in the Czech Republic describes last 50 years through testimony
- UN Human Rights Committee asks Slovak Government for independent body to investigate the forced sterilizations of Romani women
- Czech Govt Roma Council reviews Romani Holocaust sites, victim database, and compensation for involuntary sterilizations
- Analysis: Swiss Parliament approves law on "solidarity aid" to victims of forced sterilization
- Elena Gorolová on forced sterilizations: We seek compensation, nobody will ever restore our motherhood
- Czech Republic: Romani women forced to undergo sterilization tell their stories through theater
- OSCE/ODIHR Event to Focus on Justice and Redress to Roma Victims of Forced Sterilization in the Czech Republic
- Tyson Fury, a.k.a. the "Gypsy King", has defended his title as boxing champion of the world
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights discusses compensation procedure for forced sterilizations in interview for ROMEA TV
- Grandson of famous Czechoslovak partisan from the Romani community says his grandfather was a hero
- Czech President signs law to compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations
- Czech Senate approves compensation for the victims of illegal sterilizations
- Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe calls on the Czech Senate to approve compensation for illegal sterilizations, final vote tomorrow
- Czech Senate committee recommends compensation for the illegally sterilized, final word will rest with the Senate as a whole
- Ladislav Samek: It is hard to get rid of the label of "institutionalized child" in Czech society
- Romani activist Štefan Tišer has passed away in the Czech Republic
- Slovak Ombudswoman and NGOs appeal to Government to compensate illegally sterilized people
- Czech lower house passes bill to compensate the illegally sterilized, most but not all of whom were Romani women
- Funeral for Jan Rác will take place tomorrow, Friday, 4 June, in Karviná, Czech Republic