"Czech Women" profiles outstanding female figures in Czech history

12-12-2003

Staying with books and writing - an inspiring book has just been published, called "Ceske zeny" or "Czech Women". A team of authors, lead by Alena Wagnerova, compiled almost 60 profiles of important and interesting Czech women who have made history. Author Alena Wagnerova.

"The book 'Czech Women' is a collection of 58 portraits of outstanding Czech women from all walks of life throughout the 1000 years of Czech history. We wanted to show the contribution women have made to Czech culture and the development of Czech society - which is remarkable but not sufficiently recognised - as is the case with women's work in all fields of human activity."

Saint Agnes of Bohemia, 19th century painter Amalie Manesova, writers Bozena Nemcova, Karolina Svetla and Eliska Krasnohorska, early 20th-century opera diva Ema Destinnova and composer Vitezslava Kapralova - these are just a few names of outstanding Czech women profiled in the book. The list continues until modern times, with scientists, architects, film-makers, doctors and artists - all making a mark in their respective fields.

"When I started putting the book together, I was amazed. Although I knew a lot about the topic, I was surprised at just how many women have influenced Czech society. I think it is no coincidence that Czech history starts with a female figure - Princess Libuse. Through her example, we can see the important feminine characteristics that have been part of women's work for centuries. That is a combination of a clear mind, a compassionate heart, opposition to violence, cautiousness, an ability to patiently but persistently follow their goals and an understanding for other people's needs."

Should somebody think there are not enough female role models around for young women and girls, the book Ceske zeny offers plenty. Author Alena Wagnerova.

"I think today the situation with female role models is better than it used to be during my childhood. Because women during the last 40 years have managed to gain recognition in a number of professions, including politics. What I think still remains a problem in our society is that men's standards of human activity are dominant and there is not enough input from women whose virtues include patience, consideration, and social feelings. Women who want to stand out and do stand out, have to fit into men's boundaries and they have to adjust to them. We could see that in a number of women politicians. For example, Margaret Thatcher who is a woman but worked in a man's way. As opposed to Princess Libuse - but she had to pay for it." [laughs]

12-12-2003