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Czechs fail to take modern approach to gender equality, foreign minister says

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Prague, March 8 (CTK) – The Czech Republic is not among the EU’s progressive and cultivated countries in ensuring gender equality, and it has even been one of the worst due to the pay differences and the conditions of mothers, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said at a conference yesterday.
The whole society pays dearly, also financially, for the worse position of women, Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD), told journalists during the 22% Towards Equality conference.
The conference, marking the International Women’s Day, highlighted the pay differences between Czech men and women, which rank among the deepest in Europe.
In the Czech Republic, women’s pay is 22 percent lower on average than men’s.
In addition, the employment of mothers of children under six is the third lowest in Europe.
Zaoralek called the unequal conditions for men and women “a display of backwardness and parochialism.”
“It is a shame and I feel ashamed of it,” he told the conference.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (CSSD) said the 22-percent pay difference corresponds to some 6,700 crowns a month.
Women’s lower incomes afflict not only them but also their offspring, and they negatively influence women’s pensions that are 20-percent lower than men’s, Marksova said.
The pay differences persist in spite of the government’s effort to eliminate them. In the private and the state sectors, women’s pay were 24 and 17 percent lower than men’s, respectively, in the first half of 2016.
In 2016, the Labour Ministry launched a five-year project 22% Towards Equality, which offers a pay audit programme to firms and institutions.
“We do not want to campaign by means of tough measures and fines, but to explain employers whether the wages they pay are just…The employers are often surprised after checking the situation,” Marksova said.
She said the introduction of children’s groups and small nurseries helped improve the gender equality in the Czech Republic in the past several years.
The position of small children’s parents might also improve based on a planned new provision in the Labour Code, which would bind employers to explain in writing why they would not grant a part-time job to applicants from among parents, Marksova said.
Zaoralek said Czechs should not only discuss the problem of inequality and undignified conditions but also seek a change in this respect.
He said the causes of the Czech approach to gender equality originate back in the period of the communist regime.
At the time, gender equality only meant that “women could work as hard as men, and they obtained a carnation once a year, on the International Women’s Day,” Zaoralek added.

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