The Czech Republic is possibly the most secular country in Europe today, if not the world. Currently it holds the Presidency of the European Union and will do so until the end of June. Like all countries which hold the presidency, it has its own programme of action.
Part of its programme deals with family life, and specifically the relationship between work and the family. In this regard, it inevitably has a view on child-care.
What may surprise many people given the secular nature of Czech society is the strong support the Czech Presidency is giving to women who choose to raise their children in the home. Unlike our Government, the Czech Government feels no sense of embarrassment about this and obviously does not feel intimated by those who which downplay home childcare in favour of out-of-home, professional, preferably State-subsidised childcare.
The Work Programme document of the Czech Presidency states that the Czechs wish to “stress the importance of home childcare as a fully fledged alternative to a professional career, an alternative that deserves both respect and support from the state and society.”
Of course, what the Czechs are doing is recognising the reality that many women want to look after their children in the home and don’t wish to work full-time. Would that other Governments would recognise the same.
Here is the relevant wording of the Work Programme in full:
‘As part of the European debate on the promotion of employment and reconciliation of working, personal and family lives, the Presidency will focus on the issue of parental childcare and its relation to employment policy and stress the importance of home childcare as a fully fledged alternative to a professional career, an alternative that deserves both respect and support from the state and society. It will put emphasis on respect for the autonomy and freedom of choice for families, on the qualitative aspect of care services, the socio-cultural environment and the historical experience of Member States. These issues will constitute the theme of a Presidency conference and the informal meeting of Ministers for Family Policy. At the informal meeting, the Presidency will, in light of the above, propose opening a debate on a possible review of the Barcelona objectives in the field of pre-school childcare services. The Presidency will also continue discussing legislative proposals of the European Commission aimed at the reconciliation of work, personal and family life.’