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PROFILES: THREE WOMEN WITH EXTRAORDINARY INFLUENCE

Brigita Schmögnerová: Writing national policy

In a different political climate, Brigita Schmögnerová might have become a mathematician or a novelist. While in secondary school, "I was trying to find a choice between two possibilities, math or literature," she explained in her small office at the headquarters of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ). "But the political situation was very bad at that time and was not sympathetic to literature." So she compromised and chose to study at the Economics University in Bratislava. After graduating, she became a researcher at the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV). As with many others, the 1989 revolution changed how she viewed her career; she decided then that she had a role to play in politics.



In a different political climate, Brigita Schmögnerová might have become a mathematician or a novelist. While in secondary school, "I was trying to find a choice between two possibilities, math or literature," she explained in her small office at the headquarters of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ). "But the political situation was very bad at that time and was not sympathetic to literature."

So she compromised and chose to study at the Economics University in Bratislava. After graduating, she became a researcher at the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV). As with many others, the 1989 revolution changed how she viewed her career; she decided then that she had a role to play in politics.

"I thought that I had a lot of experience and knowledge and that I could be helpful," she said. So she began to work with the SDĽ, hashing out the party's economic platform.

Her direct involvement in politics didn't come until March, 1994 when a new interim government replaced the second Mečiar administration and Schmög-nerová became the vice premier for the economy. Now, as vice-chair of the SDĽ and a parliamentary deputy, Schmögnerová, who was born in Bratislava on November 17, 1947, is one of the most powerful women in Slovak politics. But while politics and economics have clearly been rewarding to Schmögnerová, she advises young women interested in them to be prepared for a long, hard haul. "It is not easy to start in business, or in politics. In our society it's agreed upon that a woman shouldn't be involved in those two fields."

They also take up a lot of time. "Both economics and politics are really time consuming," Scmognerová said. "To do good research you have to work from early morning to late at night... It is the same with politics." She said, however, that she always made a point of making time for her family, even working at night instead. "I have never deprived [my son] from reading fairy tales or taking him for a walk." While she said she clearly faces a great deal of unfriendly fire as an "opposition" politician, it has rarely been directed at the fact she is a woman, as in the occasional "she's naive because she's a woman," sort of statement. Still, she added, "the political opponents certainly have in mind the fact that I am a woman."

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