Gradually, Gender Studies moved away from its academic orientation. It was evident then that the university lectures needed to become independent and be integrated into the formal university structures. The organisation moved towards information and documentation activities. It focused its lecturing activities on the wider public; it also became more engaged in work with and for the media. Via the media, the organization attempted to approach the general public. In 1999, due to changes in the law, NGOs were required to re-register and Gender Studies became organisation for the public good.
1. Information Centre - Library
The library began to purchase books in Czech and foreign languages. Gender Studies, o.p.s. also started to receive book donations from foreign publishing houses. With the assistance of the “Gender Studies Small Grant Program” supported by OSI Budapest, GS purchased books falling within a rather new field of study – Men’s Studies. Gender Studies was also given the libraries (consisting of approx. 300 books) of several lesbian organisations – Promluv, Lambda and A-Club. The library also introduced a section of gender publications in Slavonic languages. In 1999, the library already had 3 500 publications in English, Czech and German languages. The library was open three days a week.
In 1997, the Gender Studies Library received a collection of valuable documents, the archives of Eliška Krásnohorská, from Professor Jiří Bouzek. This historical collection from the beginnings of Czech women’s movement has since been further developed thanks to further donations and low-cost antique purchases.
The electronic database of women’s organisation was developed and regularly updated.
In 1999, website http://www.feminismus.cz was created and launched as the first e-magazine of its kind.
2. Educational activities
In 1998, members of the Board of Trustees of Gender Studies officially founded the independent Centre of Gender Studies at the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University, with the support of the Ford Foundation, USA.
The lecture cycle “Tuesdays with Gender” began to attract not only experts, but also the wider public interested in gender issues.
Within its educational activities, Gender Studies also ran seminars for local politicians and public officers, and organized seminars outside Prague.
3. Work with the public and media
While during the first phase the organisation focused primarily on the expert public and almost solely on the “intellectual” and professional media; in the second phase it aimed at the general public. In addition to this, interest in media, especially women’s magazines, was increasing. Gender Studies representatives started to work intensely on publicizing gender issues in the media (a database of journalists was developed and regularly updated, and press conferences were held).
4. Joint and network projects
Cooperation with other Czech and foreign women’s organisations was further developed. Three women’s organisations – Gender Studies, o.p.s., proFem, o.p.s. and La Strada – founded an informal centre of women’s organisations at Národní dům na Smíchově and called it “Three under the Roof”. A women’s mini-gallery was also opened where they held regular exhibition openings.
The Coordination Circle against Violence against Women was founded in 1992 by representatives of 5 women’s NGOs – Gender Studies, La Strada, ROSA, proFem, Elektra. Its main activities were joint campaigns and actions related to important dates – International Women’s Day (8 March) and International Day against Violence against Women (25 November).
The Association for Equal Opportunities was founded in January 1999 by twenty Czech women’s organisations. The main goal of the Association was to become a partner for the state and regional administration in discussions about the enforcement of gender equality issues.
The KARAT Coalition is an international network of Central and Eastern European women’s organisations founded in 1997; Gender Studies, o.p.s. being one of the founding members. The network promotes equality between women and men and takes part in political processes leading to improvement of women’s position on the national and international level, especially via UN.
The international project Women’s Memory was presented at the “Inaugural Network Conference on Gender / Women’s Studies” in Belgrade, September 1998. Women’s Memory has been a long-term international project initiated and coordinated by Gender Studies, o.p.s. Its idea was born in the early nineties as a reaction to Western European and American feminist theories which were not applicable to the reality of women’s lives in post-Socialist countries.
The project focuses on recording experiences and opinions of women from three generations (born between 1920 and 1960) via the oral history and narrative interview methodologies.
The project’s goal is to find the roots of the permanent patriarchal model of society, to understand and accept the specificities of women’s approach to the world, to do away with a number of clichés, and hereby contribute not only to discussion of the roles of women and men in society, but also to initiate concrete changes in outdated gender stereotypes. The recorded interviews form – together with additional documents – the basis of the international archives of Women’s Memory. A selection of interviews were conducted with Czech women and was published in two books entitled All Our Yesterdays I and II.
In January 1999, the outcomes of the pilot project phase were presented to the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Berlin.
Projekt "Role and relations of women and men in the Roma community" – the project ran seminars and roundtables about the position of women and men in the Roma community.
6. Selected conferences and seminars
Woman and Man in Media (Prague) – Gender Studies was the main organizer.
Women in political and public life, training for women in decision-making positions (Prague) – co-organized by Gender Studies and Project Parity, Great Britain.
Are women’s rights in the Czech Republic really human rights? (Prague, Roxy) – with Ramiro Cibrian and Petr Uhl participating. The conference was followed by a cultural action “Woman Strikes Back”. The event was organized by the Coordination Circle against Violence against Women.
Public discussion on war in Yugoslavia and conflict in Kosovo (Prague) – Gender Studies was the main organizer.