Cablegate: Engagement On Women's Issues - Czech Republic

DE RUEHPG #0012/01 0081601
R 081601Z JAN 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 124579

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1. Summary: Key women's issues in the Czech Republic include
domestic violence, trafficking in persons, and limited
representation in political life. Through regular reporting
and programming, Post works closely with ministries and
organizations that focus on these issues, striving to
integrate women's issues into its broader agenda. Recent
programs with a women's issues emphasis include a series of
lectures by a female Google software engineer, arts programs,
lectures on the history of feminism, and a new informal group
that convenes extraordinary Czech and American women for
speakers' events and networking. Embassy sections regularly
nominate Czechs who focus on women's issues for the
International Visitor Leadership Program, and the Public
Affairs grant program recently awarded funds to an
organization that works to increase the number of women in
political life. Post would welcome additional resources to
focus on programming, particularly given expected budget cuts
that may impact the Czechs' ability to fund law enforcement
and social programs.

Key Issues

2. Embassy staff regularly meet with government officials and
nongovernmental organizations to better understand women's
issues. Although the situation of women in the Czech
Republic is improving, challenges remain. Domestic violence
is an ongoing problem in the Czech Republic. In 2009, police
used their authority to remove 778 persons, both male and
female, from their homes for an 10-day "cooling off" period
due to domestic violence. During the first ten months of
2009, authorities completed 330 investigations into domestic
violence. Although the country received good marks for its
efforts to prosecute and prevent trafficking and protect
victims, the Czech Republic remains a source, transit, and
destination country for trafficked women. Women in the Czech
Republic enjoy equal rights under the law, but relatively few
hold political office. Women hold 17 percent of the seats in
Parliament, for instance. Despite this, one positive sign is
the role women play as active participants and leaders of
nongovernmental organizations.

Programs with a Women's Issues Theme

3. Post has been active in organizing events that empower
women or allow advocates for women's issues to exchange views
and share best practices. The Public Affairs Section (PAS)
has worked with the NGO Gender Studies for many years. In
October 2009, PAS, with support from Gender Studies,
organized an APEX Leadership for Women (TM) workshop for
Czech managers, entrepreneurs, and gender studies
representatives. The leadership program, funded by PAS's
small grants program, was led by Yvonne Davis, President and
CEO of DAVISCommunications.

4. Slovak Petra Popluharova is the first female from the
former Czechoslovakia to serve as a software engineer for
Google. Post organized three lectures, two at universities
in Brno and Ostrava and one at the American Center, where
Popluharova encouraged women to work in the information
technology (IT) industry. Few Czech women work in this
industry (an estimated 13 percent of the industry is female,
versus 20 percent in the United States). Popluharova's first
exposure to the United States was through the Summer Work and
Travel exchange program administered by the Department of
State. Accompanying Popluharova at two of the lectures was
Czech software developer Lara Aharkava, who recently interned
in Google's Zurich office.

5. A visit to the Czech Republic by former Ambassador Swanee
Hunt provided the impetus for two events: a lunch hosted by
the Charge d'Affaires with female parliamentarians, and a
roundtable on trafficking attended by government and NGO
representatives. Ambassador Hunt's emphasis on the demand
side of trafficking triggered a lively roundtable debate on
how to best address trafficking problems in the country.

6. In Fall 2009, the American Center formed a small group of
Czech and American female business professionals. Recent
speakers at the group's events include Veronika Bednarova, a
reporter who wrote a book, My American Beauty, about her
experience as a Fulbright scholar in New York, and attorney
Vladimira Papirnik, described by a Czech newspaper as one of
the country's most respected businesswomen. The American
Center plans to develop its external contacts through the

PRAGUE 00000012 002.2 OF 002

approximately 50-member group, and also is pleased to provide
space for influential women to interact and exchange ideas.

Grants and Exchange Programs

7. Working with Gender Studies, PAS funded a series of four
lectures on the history of American feminism through the
small grants program. The small grants program also
supported the Padesat Procent (Fifty Percent) organization,
an NGO focused on equal representation of women and men in
decision making and in public life. Padesat Procent is
working to identify young female leaders by focusing on the
regional level, but is also interested in promoting specific
women to run for higher offices.

8. Targeting future leaders through exchange programs is an
Embassy priority. International Visitor Leadership Program
(IVLP) nominations each year include women who focus on
issues important to women's rights. Post also supports
events that draw upon the expertise of IVLP and Voluntary
Visitor program veterans. For example, an Interior Ministry
conference on reducing prostitution and sexual exploitation
in Plzen in June 2009 featured several speakers who had
participated in the IVLP program. Ivana Sabatova, board
member of the South Bohemian Association for Women Managers
and Entrepreneurs, regularly shares her IVLP experiences with
female managers and entrepreneurs at conferences, seminars,
panel discussions, and in news articles. Kristina Prunerova,
who participated in the Voluntary Visitor program in 2006,
won the State Alumni Member of the month in June 2008 for her
active and influential role in advocating human rights and
supporting democracy. This week, Post will nominate five
women who work on domestic violence issues for the March 2010
Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women conference,
sponsored by the Vital Voices Global Partnership and the Avon
Foundation for Women. Participants must commit to follow-up
networking activities upon their return to the Czech

Best Practices and Plans for the Road Forward

9. Best practices identified by Post include:

-- Ongoing reporting on issues of importance to women;
-- Using the Embassy grants program to find innovative ways
to fund projects that advance women's issues;
-- Creative programming for visitors to the country, which
broadens the base of potential topics and conserves funds;
-- Encouraging honorary awards and exchange program
participation as a means of cultivating future leaders.

10. Post will continue to integrate women's issues into its
reporting and programming. With additional resources, Post
would give greater emphasis to women's political
participation and events that empower and attract the next
generation of female leaders. Along these lines, one step
Post is taking within existing resources is revamping its
annual human rights award. One goal of the revised award
process is broadening the base of support for the award to
attract younger activists, both female and male, who will
play a greater role in Czech public life in the coming years.

© Scoop Media

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