GUEST COLUMN

A woman and a former actress too!

The elderly generation of patriarchal Slovakia has not been so surprised for a long time: A woman is daring to reach for the presidential "throne." Not only did she have the courage to reject the destiny reserved for her as a woman - a life bounded by kitchen, kids and church - but she has also been an actress. What is it we are witnessing?
Over a year ago, the women's conference of the ruling coalition SDK party called in a strong voice for an increase in the number of women making decisions about Slovakia's future. The reaction of the political establishment was deep silence.
In September 1998 elections, the SDK party, despite having ignored the demands of women, succeeded at the polls. In the election, which was basically a referendum on former Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, intelligent female voters had no choice.

The elderly generation of patriarchal Slovakia has not been so surprised for a long time: A woman is daring to reach for the presidential "throne." Not only did she have the courage to reject the destiny reserved for her as a woman - a life bounded by kitchen, kids and church - but she has also been an actress. What is it we are witnessing?

Over a year ago, the women's conference of the ruling coalition SDK party called in a strong voice for an increase in the number of women making decisions about Slovakia's future. The reaction of the political establishment was deep silence.

In September 1998 elections, the SDK party, despite having ignored the demands of women, succeeded at the polls. In the election, which was basically a referendum on former Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, intelligent female voters had no choice.

Today, although up to 54% of the electorate are women, only a few women have seats in the Slovak parliament. All constitutional posts are held by men, unlike in many developed countries, such as Switzerland, where a woman has recently been elected president for the first time.

More than half a year has passed since the elections, and promised changes have not yet come in many areas. The reason behind the slow pace of change is not only the economic devastation left by Mečiar and split opinions inside the coalition government.

Crises in the Slovak family unit in general, and in feminized areas of social life such as schooling and medicare, have deepened due to the almost total exclusion of women from political decision-making processes. It's entirely possible that this inexplicable absence of women in top politics is closely related to the lack of a long-term concept of the future of Slovakia.

Current Slovak politics are governed by the swiftly changing fortunes of the hunt, in which voters become prey who, when captured, allow the political hunters to enjoy years of plenty - plety of high positions and property. The feminine perspective, which asks "how are we all going to live until the children grow up," is missing entirely.

Written by Juraj Mesík.

This is a part of an article originally printed in the daily Sme on May 6.

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