Interviews

Michaela Marksová: It Is Very Difficult to Find A Political Agreement On Any Change

Published: 21. 4. 2021
Author: Karel Černý
Photo: Photo archives of Michaela Marksová
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I have actually known the current Deputy Foreign Minister Michaela Marksová for many years. Even though, only very indirectly. Her mother was my high school class teacher. A really good one! Both professionally and as a person. When I was talking to Michaela, I got the impression she has inherited many qualities from her mother.

After joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you said that you wanted to focus primarily on social issues. Which exactly are these?

Within the framework of development aid, the Ministry supports a number of projects, which are often focused on various social issues. For example, helping centres for disabled children, victims of domestic violence, working with the socially excluded and the like. It is in my interest that these projects take into account the position of women and men in the developing world. When you specifically support women, it has a huge positive impact on society as a whole, especially on children. When you support purely men, the impact of focused projects - which may not be obvious at first glance – may not be as big.

Are there common topics across countries in this area?

What is certainly common is that when you strengthen the independence of women so that they can earn their own money or be educated in basic hygiene and health rules, you will always help children, which is, in my opinion, very important for the future of society as a whole, from lower infant mortality to significantly better health and better education.

You took office in mid-June last year. What is the most important thing you have done so far, and what awaits you?

Unfortunately, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the COVID period, so it hasn’t been possible to travel, or very little, and everyday life at this ministry is very limited. As a political deputy, I perform various tasks assigned by the Minister, I have no section under me. This applies, for example, to cooperation with compatriots, promotion of the Czech Republic abroad ... I consider the opening of the embassy office in Jerusalem a huge success, but this is of course the result of a joint effort by many people, and that couldn’t have been successful without the support of the Minister.

You pay a lot of attention to the issue of the position of women in society. What do you miss the most in this area?

When I look here at the ministry - there is not a single woman among the undersecretaries and we still have a low proportion of female ambassadors. As Minister of Labour, I have helped to significantly improve the conditions for diplomats who have given birth during their deployment abroad. But further improvements in balancing family and professional life have yet to come to increase the number of female ambassadors.

When you were a minister, you spent a lot of time, among other things, on pension reform, enforcing the renewal of pension valorisations, etc. Do you think that it will ever be possible to bring the pension reform to a successful end?

The big question is, what exactly do you imagine under the term "pension reform". Under the word reform, I imagine a huge, fundamental change. However, the basis of our pension system is, in my opinion, perfectly fine, as its stability is guaranteed by the state. What is being talked about is, in my opinion, more changes in individual parameters - for example, so that women do not have lower pensions as a ‘punishment’ for maternity allowance or whether to introduce compulsory supplementary insurance paid by employers ... But honestly, I'm glad I don't have to deal with it, because it is very difficult to find a political agreement on any change.

Next year you will complete a quarter of a century in CSSD. How much has the party changed during that time, and how do you think it should have changed?

The basic ideas remain the same: support for people who work honestly, their children and those who, for example, cannot help themselves due to their disability. What is harder is how to "sell" it to people today, how to convince them that CSSD is still there for them and that the simple solutions offered by some parties do not work. We are lagging far behind in this, both in party marketing and sometimes in the election of top officials who must be completely trustworthy for the people.

CV BOX

Michaela Marksová (born 20th March 1969 in Prague) is the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and a former Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.

#She graduated from the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, in Biology and Mathematics.

In the mid-1990s, she was the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for several years. From 1997 to 2004, she was the director of public relations for the Gender Studies charitable trust. From 2004 to 2006, she worked as the Director of the Family Policy Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. She worked in the state administration from April 2009 to September 2010, when she headed the Department of Equal Opportunities at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

#She has been a member of CSSD since 1997, and was its Vice-chairwoman for three years from 2015.

She was appointed the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in January 2014  and stayed in the position until December 2017. In June 2020, she became Political Deputy Foreign Minister.

She is married and has two daughters (14 and 18 years old). She likes to wind down by working in the garden or with flowers at home and on the balcony, and by reading and watching movies. She also loves spending time with her friends and new people.

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