“It is a question of the social setting, the right timing, and the right candidate.” This is how Michaela Bakala answered when asked: “Why we do not yet have a female prime minister or president in the Czech Republic?” See Mrs. Bakala’s full answer in an interview broadcasted as part of the Václav Havel Library’s online program entitled Václav Havel’s Dialogues on Human Rights: Women’s Rights in Times of Crisis.
Dialogues follow the tradition of organizing a regular autumn conference in honor of the Václav Havel Prize for Human Rights, awarded by the Václav Havel Library together with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Charter 77 Foundation. This year’s Prize winner will be announced – due to the covid-19 pandemic – at the first non-virtual session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which should take place early next year.
An international dialogue on women’s rights in times of crisis, attended by Madeleine Albright, Karolina Wigura, and Svjatlana Cichanouská, took place in cooperation with this year’s Forum 2000 virtual conference.
In the format of 3 QUESTIONS FOR, Michaela Bakala spoke about the current conditions she sees today where women are more affected by COVID prevention measures and restrictions than men. She pointed out that in this COVID situation, politics have shown, among other things, the importance of empathy and that countries led by women have done very well battling COVID. She expressed the appreciation for the prime ministers of New Zealand, Finland, and Germany, who reacted much more calmly, were more prepared and better able to communicate and persuade people in their country.
Michaela also commented the station of women in the Czech Republic compared to other countries with which she is well acquainted such as Switzerland, the United States, and South Africa. “We are not a minority, we make up more than 50% in Czech society,” she emphasized and draws attention to the prejudices Czech women face to succeed in business and how important it is for women to share their experience. Michaela used the example, of the “glass ceiling” in society, denying women equal compensation as men. She also mentioned the issue of toxic workplace environments. “The question is, to what extent, for example, the #MeToo movement and the debate around it have exposed unacceptable behaviors.”
She also spoke boldly about upcoming presidential elections in the United States. “I think minimizing the issues facing women and minorities today may play an important factor in such elections,” she said, adding that ‘the age of strong men, as seen in the USA and other countries, will naturally fade away’ as women take their place in public office. “It seems there is a generation of men who will never fully accept a woman as a partner,” says Michaela Bakala.