The Broaderview: Czech Republic
The Broaderview is a monthly series by broad Laura Turner, a Denver local traveling the world with Remote Year. Every month, Laura moves to a new country with approximately 60 other digital nomads. The Broaderview is a glimpse into the life of a local woman in each country, getting a sense of what it means to be a broad beyond the Mile High City. This month, Laura interviewed Monika Vavříková from the Moravia region of Czech Republic.
By Laura Turner | Global Content Contributor
Czech Republic survived many iterations as a country to become the place it is today. Formerly Czechoslovakia, this nation faced oppression first from Nazis occupation during WWII, then social injustices from their own Communist Party in the 50s, and finally Soviet Union occupation in the 60s and 70s. It wasn’t until an uprising of students in the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that censorship was finally lifted from media and the country returned to democracy. Perhaps as a backlash to a legacy of occupation and discontent with authority, Czechs represent some of the highest percentage of atheists in all of Europe: 72% of the population declared itself religiously unaffiliated—a category which includes atheists, agnostics and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular." At the epicenter of Czech Republic’s modern identity is Prague, both the capital and largest city in the country. Prague boasts a vibrant culture and has produced one of the more controversial contemporary artists of our time, David Černý, who infamously installed creepy baby sculptures crawling up a Prague TV Tower.
I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Monika Vavříková, an attorney in Prague. Vavříková is originally from a more provincial area of Czech Republic called Moravia. Her family is traditional for that region, coming from a blend of Slovak origins and Hungarian communities. Both Vavříková’s parents have a high school education and grew up in the communist era without many opportunities for a career. Vavříková’s sister began but didn’t finish university and now works in a café.
Vavříková left Moravia and moved to Prague right after high school. She was 20 when she began law school and finished her degree earlier this week after 6 years of study. Vavříková works at an attorney’s office in Prague and confides, “being a lawyer as a female is kind of difficult because you need to combine the family and professional life. Now there are many women being lawyers [in Czech Republic] but I would say the best positions always are taken by men.” Referencing the gender dynamic at her office Vavříková states “the boss is male, but then we are 90% women otherwise. It’s a tiny office and I would say we are not a traditional one. So you can’t consider this to be a pattern.”
In terms of marriage and family, the two main regions of the Czech Republic reflect different perspectives. In the more religious and traditional Moravia, women get married younger and have children sooner. In Bohemia, the region where Prague is located, Vavříková notes, “the trend was either not to get married at all, or only in your late twenties/early thirties. Loads of couples live together without being married.” Unlike in Croatia, many women do return to career after having children. There are draw backs however, “employers often prefer men as their employees, because they know they will not go on maternity leave. Often it is hard for women to find a good job after a few years gap raising children.”
Vavříková exudes cosmopolitan confidence and style and is representative of contemporary Czech culture. The generation she represents is optimistic and more driven than their parents’ generation who grew up with Soviet and Communist values. Vavříková has noticed a rise in “hipsters” in Prague and a move towards Westernization. Prague and Czech Republic continue to be a juxtaposition of old and new.