Gender studies launched in Prague
By Sally Low
PRAGUE — With the assistance of the New York-based Network of East-West Women, a project to provide resources for gender studies courses has been started by several Czech women.
Currently the Resource Centre for Gender Studies consists of about 150 books, papers and course guides form various western countries. Because of lack of funds, it is located in the home of Jirina Siklova, a woman who was persecuted under the former regime and is now head of the Department of Social Work and Gender Studies at Prague's Charles University.
The name "gender studies" was chosen because of the negative connotations associated with feminism in this country, says Jana Hradilkova, a part-time librarian for the centre. While one aim of the women involved is to open up a dialogue with and increase knowledge about the women's movement in the west, Hradilkova does not think feminism will be immediately relevant here.
"I'm sure it will occur, but what we need now is to be more aware of our own situation. We have to start with positive, concrete things — the family, children, ecology. Feminist ideas are often seen as too vague.
"We should look at the high rate of alcoholism and smoking among our women and find out why so many who study at university do not occupy professions for which they are qualified. We want to open up other possibilities for women so they can escape the so-called cult of motherhood, to encourage a dialogue that does not depend on stereotypes and allow women to examine whether the choices they make are really free."
Hradilkova and other women have started discussion groups among themselves and also with English-speaking women living in Prague. She likens them to the consciousness raising groups that were once so important in the west.
The centre has opened a foreign currency bank account and will welcome donations. For more information contact: Jirina Siklova, Department of Social Work and Gender Studies, Charles University, Celetna 20, Praha 1, Czechoslovakia.
Donations can be made to: Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka, SWIFT CEKOCSPP, Account no. 3483 82007, 11520 Praha 1, Na Prikope 14, Czechoslovakia. Reason for payment: Gender Studies.