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(In)Visible Women in Political and Civic Life in Slovakia. Alexandra Bitusikova EGG Project SERD-2003-00033 Prague, 20 June 2005. Do not poke your noses into politics!.

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(In)Visible Women in Political and Civic Life in Slovakia

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in visible women in political and civic life in slovakia

(In)Visible Women in Political and Civic Life in Slovakia

Alexandra Bitusikova

EGG Project


Prague, 20 June 2005

do not poke your noses into politics

Do not poke your noses into politics!

The sentence adressed to women reflects an opinion of majority of the Slovak society on women’s participation in decision-making.

  • Female visibility (WP2) – objective: Analysis of women’s civic and political engagement pre- and post-1989
  • Equality institutions in Slovakia:

- Coordinating Committee for Women’s Issues (government advisory body)

- Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and the

Status of Women

- Dpt for Family and Gender Policy (Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and


  • Equality legislation and documents:

- Constitution of the Slovak Republic

- Labour Code

- Anti-Discriminatory Act

- National Action Plan for Women in the Slovak Republic; National Plan for

Employment in the Slovak Republic

- Concept of Equal Opportunities for Men and Women

statistical data on women s political representation in slovakia
Statistical Data on Women’s Political Representation in Slovakia
  • National Council (Parliament):

Pre-1989: 27% - 29%

1990s: 12 % - 15,3 %

2002-2006: 14,66 % / 19% (after changes in the Parliament)

  • Goverment:

Pre-1989: no women

1990s: 0 – 14,8%

2002-present: no women

  • President:

In 1999 – 1 female candidate (unsuccessful)

  • European Parliament:

14 Slovak MEPs, 5 women = 35% (1 Chairwoman of Committee on Women’s Rights)

women in municipal politics
Womenin Municipal Politics
  • Slovakia – transition fromthree-grade territorial administration (regions, districts and local municipalities) to two-grade administration (regions called higher territorial units and local municipalities).
  • Women’s representation in higher positions at regional and district level – low (no woman is a chair of regional government in 8 regional cities) + lack of statistical data
  • Participation of women in local politics – increasing with every election (1994 – 15.2%; 1998 – 17.5%; 2002 – 19.4%)
  • Women are mayors in smaller municipalities, men in bigger municipalities.
  • 25.6% of men and 42.1% of women consider women’s participation in local politics insufficient.
women in municipal politics cont
Women in Municipal Politics (cont.)
  • Why are women more successful in local politics?

1. Local governments have less power and less money, and therefore they attract fewer men;

2. Women in local politics can better combine their work duties with family duties;

3. Women prefer to work on familiar local issues. They consider their work as a service for others, community service and mission.

4. Most women consider politics a male and dirty business. Affiliation to a political party is much less important in local politics than in ‘high’ politics. Many female candidates for mayors of villages in Slovakia run as independent candidates.

  • These tendencies appeared in all studied countries.
from the interviews with female mayors
From the interviews with female mayors:
  • I like this work. I love meeting people, I love working in the field. I always was a leader, even at school I had to be head of the classroom.
  • I became a mayor because I wanted to help my village. I had experience in working with the people, I have always done it. And I have social feelings. It is economically difficult in small villages, and I wanted to help.
  • We have a tradition of female mayors here. But in the neighbouring little town, it is different. Conditions there are not comparable with ours. It is all about money in bigger places. They had several women candidates there, but they have never been successful. It is always a male mayor who wins there.
women in trade unions
Women in Trade Unions
  • Pre-1989: Revolutionary Trade Union Movement – controlled by the Communist Party.

Women’s committees at all levels – aim: « to achieve an actual implementation of equal rights for women as employees, mothers and citizens  » (1984). No women in trade union leadership.

  • Post-1989: Confederation of Trade Unions

Decline of membership (from 2.4 million in 1990 to 750,000 in 2000).

More than 50% are female members

  • No women in top leadership
  • Commission for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (since 1991) – advisory body
women in ngos
Women in NGOs
  • More than 70 women’s organisations in Slovakia = key players in keeping gender agenda alive and lobbying
  • Types of organisations: professional associations, charities, women’s rights groups, interest groups, political parties organisations, international organisations.
  • Topics: violence and trafficing, women’s rights, reproductive rights, women in decision-making, education, culture, charity, health, social problems, Roma minority.
  • Awareness and understanding of women’s issues higher in NGOs than among female politicians.
  • International cooperation: low
  • “We can learn from experience of other EU member states. But that requires certain conditions: to know what we want to achieve, to know environment where we want to achieve it, to get inspired by good examples, but not to copy them…”
from opinion polls
From Opinion Polls…
  • 32% of women and 41% of men participate in some community or NGO activity
  • 78% of women and 83% of men would like to participate more
  • 3.5% of men and 5.4 of women know about activities of women’s organisations
  • 5.5% of women are active in women’s organisations
  • Age, education and urban-rural division are important factors in active women’s participation: younger, educated women in larger cities tend to be more active and positive towards women’s civic and political participation than older ones in small villages and towns
strategies and recommendations for increasing women s civic and political participation
Strategies and recommendations for increasing women’s civic and political participation
  • Quotas (or zipping): support for quotas has been slowly increasing (public dabate and awareness raising before elections in 2002) – age and education gap; low support among female politicains
  • Raising awareness as a long-term strategy: despite campaigns and media coverage, gender mainstreaming at all levels is still formal and not considered a serious problem. More debates and media reports needed! More gender-aware journalists needed!
  • Education is a key factor in fighting gender stereotypes (education of teachers, education of children, review of textbooks)
  • Control and monitoring mechanisms need to be developed at all levels – legislation itself is not enough
  • Innovative practices and institutions – in some countries (Czech Women’s shadow cabinet; call for Interministerial Commission on Gender Issues in Latvia etc.)
thank you