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“My goal is to make women feel like a woman and be happy about it.”

Interview by Martina Law (interview was conducted early 2005)

Markéta Štrosová was raised in Strakonice, Czech Republic. After graduating from highschool, she studied economy. She worked as a business consultant in the past, and is currently employed by a German company. She is an active member of Rovnost Šancí, a women’s right party in the Czech Republic. Markéta Štrosová is married, has a daughter and lives just outside of Prague.

How did you personally experience the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989?

In 1989, I was in second year Grammar School. We lived in a small town. So, we received all the information about Prague and other big cities’ events only gradually. As soon as we got the information we went out and informed the others.  

How has life changed for you ever since 1989? 

After graduating from the Faculty of Economics in Prague I realized that the market and career opportunities were comparable to other European countries. The opening of the border has changed the lives of many Czech people, and I personally see this as a very, very positive fact; despite of all the critical views and opinions you can hear in our current democratic system.  

When was Rovnost Šancí (a women’s rights party) founded? What is its purpose?

The party was founded in 2004 and registered in 2005. The main goal is to increase political participation of women in Czech politics as the current situation is very critical. There are only 15 percent of women in the Chamber of Deputies and only 12 percent in the Senate. Also, there are only 3 women ministers out of 17, and unfortunately one of them already announced this week that she wants to leave politics! At the municipal level the situation is similar.  

The  main goals are to empower women rights. We want women to have equal positions in their families as well as in their professional lives. The current situation is very discriminating, and its negative effects might not only hurt women but also  their children. 

Does Rovnost Šancí work together with women movements in other countries? If so, what countries and what movements?

Obviously we have contacted other women movements and political parties. We started with the German party Hälfte des Himmels. We are in touch with the chairman Mrs. Stefanie Berg, and we are likely to attend some of their events in Germany in October. We have also contacted similar movements in France and Sweden where the political and legislative situation regarding gender attitude is much stronger then in the Czech Republic.  

Since when have you been actively involved in the party Rovnost Šancí? Why did you decide to join them?

I joined the party shortly after it had been founded. I have been always interested in gender problematics, and the party program addressed me. In my previous job I worked as a specialist for acquiring funds from national and lately European funds, and I fully believe I can use my knowledge and experience  in the party. I have already prepared a project enabling us to acquire a grant for gender survey and other activities that  focuses on every level (regional, national, etc.)  

How were women portrayed in the Communist society back in Czechoslovakia??

Communist society created “a super woman,” someone who must be able to be good at work by fulfilling all important socialistic tasks as well as  taking care  of children, husband and household. They were not supposed to think about their own needs and personal development. Also, the desire of women to strive for   their own career was considered an impropriate desire.  If a woman tried to break this “rule” she was immediately criticized by the whole society. 

In what ways do you personally see women portrayed in today’s Czech society? 

We are almost at a situation where women can achieve any goal they want. They can study, work, bring up children, have their own career, work. What they miss, though, is the support from the legislation and state apparatus to be able to combine all these activities together. There is a lack of part time jobs, pre-school education system, manager positions intended for women. In addition, there are job advertisements with discriminating details looking for man only, etc.  

Why do you see a need to support women’s interests? 

I consider myself as a woman with a certain professional experience that I have gained not only in the Czech Republic. I have several realistic concepts how to help women and how to make this help work. I believe it is necessary to share all my experience, so other women can benefit from it, too. Through them the benefits will  eventually affect their friends, boyfriends, husbands and children.

What would you like to see changed for women in the Czech Republic, but also for women around the world?? 

The aim is to give all women a helping hand to have them create an adequate background, deliver all relevant and important information, help them to eradicate the barriers they might have thanks to their surroundings and help them to find strength and  confidence to talk openly about everything they feel, think, experience or struggle for. My goal is to make women feel like a woman and be happy about it!

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