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Women and Family in Contemporary Times

State social policy plays a significant role in relation to women and families. Family policy consists of a set of distinct but interconnected policy choices that affect families and their issues. [1] It is therefore a branch of social security containing tools aimed at supporting family development. Because family policy also encompasses issues such as motherhood, parenthood, fertility, etc., this area of law can serve as an effective means to strengthen the position of women by promoting shared responsibility between parents. However, family policy, particularly maternity and parental leave, is generally not given much attention by political parties in a comprehensive manner. Unfortunately, this has a negative impact on the overall shape of family policy in the Czech Republic. Financing of social and family policy is perceived mainly as a necessary and unpopular expenditure, if not wastefulness, rather than an investment in the development of society, which can pay off manifold in the future. [2]

The Impact of Parenthood on Women’s Careers

Recent research by the non-governmental organization Gender Studies o.p.s. [3] has shown that one of the main causes of the gender pay gap is motherhood. This societal analysis also indicates that the more educated mothers are, the greater the disparity in compensation. Furthermore, surveys suggest that gender pay gaps significantly increase during periods when women have young children. Additionally, this is a period during which female unemployment is at its highest.

A study by the Institute of Economics of the Czech Academy of Sciences provides an explanation for this issue, pointing to the excessive length of parental leave, which is the longest in the EU in our country. [4] This is evident from the survey conducted as part of the Europe in Data project [5], where in most member states parental leave lasts for three years, while in the Czech Republic it can extend up to four years. Long-term interruption of employment due to childcare reduces a woman's productivity upon returning to the labor market, which can increase the risk of subsequent unemployment and prolong its duration. Consequently, the overall period that a mother spends out of the workforce is further extended, the risk of human capital and work habits loss is higher, and the chances of personal career advancement sharply decline. [6] Therefore, even though women return to employment after parental leave, for various reasons they may not be able to meet employer requirements, leading to subsequent job loss, after which they must rebuild their career from scratch.

The research thus indicates that women who choose extended parental leave increase their risk of unemployment. One reason for this is the lack of institutions in the Czech Republic that would facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life for women. Specifically, there are very limited opportunities for part-time work, employment with flexible hours, or telecommuting. The decision of women to stay at home with young children is also influenced by the lack of financially accessible childcare facilities for children under three years old. [7] Better options for balancing childcare for younger children and women's careers would have immediate and significant impacts on state budget revenues.

Given that one of the purposes of family policy should be to combat gender inequality, it is absolutely essential to address this issue. None of the policies or measures should favor a particular type of gender arrangement in the family. Unfortunately, currently, for example, there is a financial advantage to the four-year utilization of parental benefits or the form of parental leave, which directly encourages its use only by mothers, even though unlike in the past, fathers can also use this period for childcare. [8]

Selected Issues of Czech Family Policy

Shortcomings in family policy are recognized as one of the main problems in our republic, not only by EU bodies but also by significant organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). [9] A priority of state family policy should be the provision of accessible and quality childcare guaranteed by the state. The state should provide parents with the opportunity to utilize essential childcare institutions, similar to compulsory school attendance. These services should be affordable, spatially accessible to the greatest extent possible, and their scheduling should cater to a wide range of parental occupations and schedules. [10]

If our state's family policy could find a way to motivate women to end their parental leave earlier, it could at least alleviate differences in income between men and women. By returning to work earlier, women not only help themselves but also contribute to the national economy. Supporting this model is also in the interest of the state as a whole.

To enable women to return to the workforce as soon as possible after parental leave, it is necessary for the state to provide adequate childcare facilities, especially for the youngest children. Parents can utilize public nurseries, of which there are around thirty throughout the Czech Republic, as well as private nurseries and commercial childcare services. The characteristic feature of all these services is that they are relatively expensive, so only a certain segment of society can afford them. [11] This puts mothers in a difficult situation - without childcare, they have no chance to work, but without work, they find it difficult to secure a place in childcare facilities. [12] As a result, the level of the workforce in the Czech Republic is compromised. [13] Among other things, the difficulty women face in returning to the workforce after maternity leave may be one of the factors contributing to the low birth rate in the Czech Republic. Women are often faced with the difficult decision of whether to jeopardize their future careers or choose family life. In the longer term, the introduction of measures to help women return to the workforce may lead to an increased willingness among women to have children. [14]

However, the problem lies not only in the insufficient number of childcare facilities, especially for children up to three years of age, but also in the absence of any form of support for fathers' involvement in shared childcare. While options for fathers to engage in household activities beyond before leaving for work and after returning home have expanded with the introduction of several weeks of paternity leave, thanks to the implementation of the recent EU Directive 2019/1158, it still remains more of a symbolic gesture than a real effort to eliminate the asymmetry between primarily caregiving mothers and primarily breadwinning fathers in families. [15]

 
Women and Family in Contemporary Times - Sára Eva Neničková
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Suggested citation: Neničková, Sára Eva, Women and Family in Contemporary Times, CHR - Student Blog, 12/11/2023, https://www.chrprfcuni.com/post/women-and-family-in-contemporary-times

 

[1] SKLÁŘOVÁ, Ivana. Postavení ženy ve společnosti, faktory ovlivňující počet dětí v rodině [online]. Brno, 2006 [cit. 2022-06-24]. Available from: https://is.muni.cz/th/ptw1f/DP_Ivana_Sklarova.pdf. Diplomová práce. Masarykova univerzita.

[2] SOKAČOVÁ, Linda. Rodinná politika v programech politických stran [online]. 3.5.2010 [cit. 2022-06-24]. Available from: https://genderstudies.cz/tiskove-zpravy/tz.shtml?x=2234419

[3] BOSNIČOVÁ, N. a KOLÁŘOVÁ, J. (2012): Kde to ladí a kde skřípe: slaďování práce a péče v mezinárodní perspektivě. Gender Studies, o.p.s., Praha.

[4] BIČÁKOVÁ, A. a KALÍŠKOVÁ K. Od mateřství k nezaměstnanosti: Postavení žen s malými dětmi na trhu práce [online]. Národohospodářský ústav AV ČR, v. v. i., 2015 [cit. 2022-06-25]. Available from: http://idea.cerge-ei.cz/files/IDEA_Studie_8_2015_Od_materstvi_k_nezamestnanosti/files/downloads/IDEA_Studie_8_2015_Od_materstvi_k_nezamestnanosti.pdf.

[5] Rodičovství v Evropě. Online. Evropa v datech. 2019. Dostupné z: https://www.evropavdatech.cz/clanek/14-rodicovstvi-v-evrope/. [cit. 2023-11-11].

[6] BOSNIČOVÁ, N. a KOLÁŘOVÁ, J. (2012): Kde to ladí a kde skřípe: slaďování práce a péče v mezinárodní perspektivě. Gender Studies, o.p.s., Praha.

[7] BIČÁKOVÁ, A. a KALÍŠKOVÁ K. Od mateřství k nezaměstnanosti: Postavení žen s malými dětmi na trhu práce [online]. Národohospodářský ústav AV ČR, v. v. i., 2015 [cit. 2022-06-25]. Available from: http://idea.cerge-ei.cz/files/IDEA_Studie_8_2015_Od_materstvi_k_nezamestnanosti/files/downloads/IDEA_Studie_8_2015_Od_materstvi_k_nezamestnanosti.pdf.

[8] KŘÍŽKOVÁ, Alena. Návrh základních principů rodinné politiky respektující principy rovných příležitostí žen a mužů [online]. In: . 2010 [cit. 2022-06-25]. Available from: https://aa.ecn.cz/img_upload/8b47a03bf445e4c3031ce326c68558ae/Rodinna_politika.pdf

[9] SCHNEIDER, Jan. Návrh fungování kolektivní péče o děti do 3 let věku v ČR aneb „Jesle za kačku“ [online]. 2010 [cit. 2022-08-08]. Available from: https://aa.ecn.cz/img_upload/8b47a03bf445e4c3031ce326c68558ae/Rodinna_politika.pdf

[10] KŘÍŽKOVÁ, Alena. Návrh základních principů rodinné politiky respektující principy rovných příležitostí žen a mužů [online]. In: . 2010 [cit. 2022-06-25]. Available from: https://aa.ecn.cz/img_upload/8b47a03bf445e4c3031ce326c68558ae/Rodinna_politika.pdf

[11] SOKAČOVÁ, Linda. Zařízení péče o děti v České republice [online]. Gender studies, 2010 [cit. 2022-08-08]. Available from: https://aa.ecn.cz/img_upload/8b47a03bf445e4c3031ce326c68558ae/Rodinna_politika.pdf

[12] BOSNIČOVÁ, N. a KOLÁŘOVÁ, J. (2012): Kde to ladí a kde skřípe: slaďování práce a péče v mezinárodní perspektivě. Gender Studies, o.p.s., Praha.

[13] SCHNEIDER, Jan. Návrh fungování kolektivní péče o děti do 3 let věku v ČR aneb „Jesle za kačku“ [online]. 2010 [cit. 2022-08-08]. Available from: https://aa.ecn.cz/img_upload/8b47a03bf445e4c3031ce326c68558ae/Rodinna_politika.pdf

[14] KALÍŠKOVÁ, Klára a Daniel MÜNICH. ČEŠKY: NEVYUŽITÝ POTENCIÁL ZEMĚ. Národohospodářský ústav [online]. 2012 [cit. 2022-06-25]. Available from: http://idea.cerge-ei.cz/documents/kratka_studie_2012_03.pdf.

[15] KUNERTOVÁ, Linda. Žena, druh ekonomicky diskriminovaný. Jak se nová vláda postaví ke zrovnoprávnění podmínek pro ženy?. A2LARM [online]. 2021 [cit. 2022-06-27]. Available from: https://a2larm.cz/2021/11/zena-druh-ekonomicky-diskriminovany-jak-se-nova-vlada-postavi-ke-zrovnopravneni-podminek-pro-zeny/

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