Women in Security – the Czech Republic

May 15, 2024

Women in Security – the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a small country of 10 million people located in the centre of Europe. Following the fall of communism and the breakup with Slovakia, Czechia became a member of NATO and the EU. It regularly ranks among the top ten most peaceful and safe countries in the entire world [1]. However, with regard to gender equality, Czechia’s performance is not so dazzling – it has one of the lowest levels of gender equality among European states. Moreover, the progress in this domain over the past twelve years was the slowest of all EU member states [2]. Women are strikingly underrepresented in the national legislature and executive as well as other decision-making positions and gender-based violence remains a problem.

Women in the Military

Women have nominally been allowed to serve in the Czechoslovak and later Czech armed forces since 1942 [3]. However, up until the 1980s, they were forbidden from attending military high schools or academies, and the opportunities to enter the armed forces were thus severely limited for them [4]. Nowadays, women and men are formally equal in the Czech military – there are no gender-based restrictions, not even for combat positions.

At the start of the millennium, the Czech defence ministry began to deal systematically with the question of gender equality in the military. The armed forces also devoted particular attention to the recruitment of women, resulting in a rapid increase in the number of female soldiers. The share of women, however, has paradoxically stagnated at around 13% since the introduction of an all-volunteer force in 2005. In 2023, there were 3 689 women, accounting for 13,8% of all active-duty soldiers [5]. At the moment, there are no specific policies that would promote the recruitment of women. Women also constitute 11% of the active reserves. While female soldiers account for 20% of all officers [6], they are barely present in the highest ranks. It was only in 2017 that Czechia got its first female general.

There is also considerable occupational segregation – 54% of the women in the Czech military serve in support services, compared to 37% of men [6]. Women are particularly concentrated in personnel, healthcare, public affairs, and legal sections, indicating a division of labour along gender lines.

It is also important to mention the share of women in international missions not only because Czechia pledged to increase female participation under the UNSCR 1325 but also because assignment to these missions increases the possibility for promotion. Between 2005 and 2022, women constituted 5 – 10% of deployed personnel [5]. In 2022, they accounted for 6% of soldiers on international missions and 20% of peacekeepers.

Given the importance of the retention of personnel, and especially of women, who face more barriers than men, the Czech military has specific retention policies targeted at female soldiers [6]. The following section will look at these policies in the context of the challenges that women encounter in the military.

Parental rights: After the standard maternity leave, which lasts 28 weeks in the Czech Republic, the military is obliged to hold the person’s position for further 6 months [7]. There are also available basic benefits related to childcare such as flexible working hours and child feeding breaks, the possibility to be excused from deployment, and, if needed, military kindergartens.

Sexual harassment prevention: Besides a NATO report, no comprehensive statistics on sexual harassment or rape in the Czech military are available, nor has the topic been thematised extensively in the public sphere. According to the report, no incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault in the Czech armed forces were reported in 2019 [6]. However, given that every second woman in Czechia has experienced some form of sexual harassment [8], and given that the military remains a male-dominated area, the Czech armed forces are likely not an exception. For instance, using a small sample of soldiers, one study has shown that virtually all of the interviewed women experienced some kind of sexual harassment [9]. Presumably, the unwanted behaviour is not reported because of fear of secondary victimisation or the downplaying of the problem by the victims themselves. Nevertheless, the Czech armed forces do have formal prevention strategies and programmes, procedures for reporting incidents, as well as personnel overseeing the allegations [6].

Military equipment and uniforms: Equipment is of standard size, service and combat uniforms are adapted for various sizes but there is no maternity or special occupational uniform [6].

Support network: There are official as well as informal networks to support women in the military.

Women in the Police

In 2023, there were 7 057 policewomen, which corresponds to 17,9% of the entire police force [10]. However, in addition to the numerical underrepresentation of women, the police suffer from significant vertical segregation as women are virtually absent from higher hierarchical positions on both the national and regional levels [11]. Unlike the military, the police have the same physical fitness requirements for men and women.

To improve the work-life balance of its employees, the Czech police offer flexible working arrangements [12].But there are no maternity uniforms available for pregnant policewomen. Concerning sexual harassment, a 2018 internal survey of the Czech police indicated that there are “no serious problems” and that no incidents were reported [13]. However, as in the case of the armed forces, the incidence of sexual harassment is in reality probably much higher, and it is not clear whether the police do have any policies to tackle this.


[1] Institute for Economics & Peace. (2022). Global Peace Index 2022: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. https://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/GPI-2022-web.pdf

‌[2] European Institute for Gender Equality. (2022). Gender Equality Index 2022: The COVID-19 pandemic and care. https://eige.europa.eu/publications-resources/publications/gender-equality-index-2022-covid-19-pandemic-and-care

‌[3] Lukáš, V. (2023, April 16). AČR není jenom pro muže, ženy tvoří téměř 14 % všech vojáků. ArmádníZpravodaj.cz. https://armadnizpravodaj.cz/udalosti/ceska-armada-zastoupeni-zen/

[4] Jadrný, P. (2017, December 9). Máme pilotku, pyrotechničku, příslušnici Hradní stráže. Vojačky najdete všude, říká první česká generálka. IROZHLAS. https://www.irozhlas.cz/zpravy-domov/lenka-smerdova-armada-generalka_1712091430_pj

‌[5] Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic. (2023). Kvantitativní genderová analýza. https://mocr.army.cz/assets/informacni-servis/povinne-informace/1-rovne-prilezitosti/kvantitativni-genderova-analyza-k-1--1--2023.pdf

‌[6] NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives. (2021). Summary of the National Reports of NATO Member and Partner Nations to the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives.

[7] Horová, M. (2021, January 28). Vojákyně a mateřství. Spolek Vlčí Máky. https://www.spolekvlcimaky.cz/post/voj%C3%A1kyn%C4%9B-a-mate%C5%99stv%C3%AD#

‌[8] proFem. (2021). Zkušenost obyvatel ČR se sexuálním násilím a sexuálním obtěžováním: výzkumná zpráva. https://www.profem.cz/shared/clanky/984/V%C3%9DZKUMN%C3%81%20ZPR%C3%81VA_sexualni%20nasili_2021%20-%20Copy%201.pdf

[9] Mlčochová, V. (2014). Gender v armádě [Bachelor’s Thesis]. https://dspace.jcu.cz/bitstream/handle/123456789/21575/BP_Mlcochova.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

[10] Vokuš, J. (2023). Početní stavy příslušníků Policie České republiky - Zveřejnění podle ustanovení § 5 odst. 3 zákona č. 106/1999 Sb. Www.policie.cz. https://www.policie.cz/clanek/zverejnene-informace-2023-pocetni-stavy-prislusniku-policie-ceske-republiky.aspx#:~:text=ledna%202023%20

‌[11] Smolíková, E. (2021). Ženy v netradičních povoláních: Případová studie žen u Policie České republiky [Bachelor’s Thesis]. https://dspace.cuni.cz/bitstream/handle/20.500.11956/126855/130304083.pdf?sequence=1

‌[12] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. (2021). Zpráva k Akčnímu plánu České republiky k implementaci rezoluce Rady bezpečnosti OSN č. 1325 (2000), o ženách, míru a bezpečnosti a souvisejících rezolucí na léta 2017-2020 za rok 2020. https://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/zahranicni_vztahy/agenda_zeny_mir_a_bezpecnost/index.html

‌[13] Žárská, L. (2021). Obtěžování - Zveřejnění podle ustanovení § 5 odst. 3 zákona č. 106/1999 Sb. Www.policie.cz. https://www.policie.cz/clanek/obtezovani.aspx

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