Czech Republic

The Czech Republic (CZE) is divided. The liberal political right, which has more or less dominated public discourse since 1989, reiterates that we are living in the best of times. It forgets that a large part of the society gained little from the transition to a market economy, or was put directly at a loss. The loss is mainly connected to the erosion of social security and a fall into social degradation. A large part of the scholarly and scientific community and the cultural elites have been unable to pay attention to growing social problems. The church organizations and key non-governmental organizations mainly focused on giving paternalist assistance to the most vulnerable in the population and did not contests the view of social problems as a phenomenon that is determined individually. Such a reality of socially unequal development was also expressed by a growing distrust of vast sections of the society towards politics in general. This reality is exploited by a number of so-called new political movements that are closely connected to the oligarchic circles. On a programmatic or ideological level, they mostly promise guarantees – or mere promises – of a more dignified status of the lower and middle classes while increasing their attention to the population living outside of the main cities.
Jana Smiggels Kavková.
Photo: Jan Sklenář / Czech Radio

Could it be the case that the Czech Republic has reached the Scandinavian level of development in terms of equality of men and women? If not, the planned transfer of resources from the field of gender equality makes little sense. Yet, the statistics and our position in international comparison indeed tell us the very opposite. Our society has a long way to go in terms of gender equality. But the leadership of Ministry of Labour and Social Affair is obviously quite content with the current state of affairs, since it plans to withdraw financial support for the promotion of equality of women and men in the labour market.

Jana Smiggels Kavková.
Photo: Jan Sklenář / Czech Radio

Despite the Czech Republic stagnating in the worldwide effort to bring about gender equality, the country’s government plans to cut funding for equality projects significantly in the coming years. That’s according to the Czech branch of the international NGO network, Social Watch.

Eurostat data sets the country’s pay gap at more than 20 percent, while at the same time the difference between men and women being able to find employment lies at 15 percent. 

Despite the Czech Republic stagnating in the worldwide effort to bring about gender equality, the country’s government plans to cut funding for equality projects significantly in the coming years. That’s according to the Czech branch of the international NGO network, Social Watch.

When the democratization process started, quarter of a century ago, the Czech Republic hoped to raise its social, environmental, economic and legal realities to “First World” standards. The Czech Social Watch coalition concluded in its alternative report to the United Nations that “we are back in the Second World”. The chapters on People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Justice and Partnerships provide evidence of an increasing gap between East and West in Europe.

“Apart from indisputable internal responsibility, international cooperation has been lacking and it is not surprising that trust in the EU is decreasing in new member states”. The report complains about underrepresentation of Eastern Europe internationally and sees “ethnically motivated murders of Czech and Polish workers in Great Britain by neo-Nazis in connection with Brexit” as “only the tip of the iceberg”.

V rámci Politického fóra na vysoké úrovni o udržitelném rozvoji (HLPF) představily organizace občanské společnosti své kritické připomínky k implementaci Cílů udržitelného rozvoje (tzv. SDGs). Hlavní zjištění monitorovací zprávy Česká republika: opět druhý svět prezentovala v New Yorku i česká koalice Social Watch.

The Czech branch of the social watchdog group, Social Watch, has given a mixed appreciation of the Czech Republic’s moves to foster a more equitable and fairer country and world over the last year. The grouping of NGOs praised moves to increase the minimum wage and to take some steps to dealing with those profiting from citizens falling into the debt trap. However, it also highlighted the government’s failure to push through a bill on social housing, the continued wide gender gap on pay, and the high level of Czech arms exports to dubious regimes and low levels of development aid. The assessment was carried around in the context of the United Nations’ 2030 strategy for sustainable development.

One of the important issues in the transition of Eastern European countries from central planning to market economies was the lag behind the then so-called First World, especially behind the states of Western Europe. Unfortunately, even after 26 years, this lag persists. Attempts to develop civic structures and to integrate them into international networks have largely failed, though in this respect the Czech Republic has advanced further than most of the former Eastern Bloc. A sustainable development agenda might help to change the situation, if it were treated seriously by all participants. As for now, however, it remains unclear whether the interests of a decent standard of living and environmental protection will prevail over the interests of selfish profit.

The report of the Social Watch concerning gender equality concerns itself with two of the most serious issues of today – firstly, the feminization of poverty (the status of single mothers and female pensioners) and secondly, the violence suffered by women and migrants. These two issues are also part of the list of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) – specifically, goal 1, ending poverty and goal 5, gender equality.

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