Česká centra, Czech Centres

Česká centra / Czech centres - logo


May 25, 2020 - Jun 30, 2020

Czech Heroines: Prominent Czech Women Past and Present

An illustrated mosaic of the stories of prominent Czech women – rulers, politicians, artists, scientists, and athletes – who left an important mark on history and the present day in the Czech lands and internationally alike. Prepared by the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art (University of West Bohemia) and the Czech Centers, and inspired by the centennial of the ratification of women’s suffrage in Czechoslovakia in 1920 and the 200th birthday of author Božena Němcová.

Czech Heroines: Prominent Czech Women Past and Present 
celebrates prominent Czechs who shaped both the Czech and international cultural and socio-political landscape, ranging from figures like the Habsburg monarch, Maria Theresa, the American first lady of Czechoslovakia, Charlotte Garrigue-Masaryk, to representative of the Czech women’s movement and victim of communist political show trials, Milada Horáková, and the U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, but also representatives of culture like author Božena Němcová, world-renown opera singer Ema Destinnová, who performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera, avantgarde and surrealist artist Toyen, and athletes like gymnast Věra Čáslavská and tennis player Martina Navrátilová, among many others. 

The Czech Heroines project, inspired by the centennial of the ratification of women’s suffrage in Czechoslovakia in 1920, also happens to coincide with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, officially adopted by all 50 states on August 16, 1920, which granted women the right to vote in the USA – though the fight for universal suffrage was far from over. Its launch on Radio Prague International also sadly falls on the same day as the passing of prominent Czech dissident and writer, Zdena Tominová, one of the first signatories and spokespersons of Charter 77, reminding us just how relevant it is to highlight and celebrate those women who have shaped Czechoslovak and Czech history and society. 


The project aims to re-contextualize history and highlight the accomplishments of Czechoslovak, Czech, and Moravian personalities, which have sometimes been overlooked, in a series of 50 portraits, as seen through the eyes of the contemporary wave of young illustrators, students of the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art at the University of West Bohemia under the guidance of their mentor and teacher, Renáta Fučíková, who is also the curator of the series. The commentary texts were written by historian Lenka Křížová and writer Kateřina Tučková, and the series heralds the eponymous book title, which is to be published in autumn 2020.

The Czech Heroines series has already been featured by a number of Czech Centers, including the Czech Center in Tel Aviv, Moscow, Rotterdam, and Kiev, with others joining, including now the Czech Center New York. Due to the long-term partnership of the Czech Centers with Radio Prague International, it is our great pleasure to present their showcase of the Czech Heroines project on their website and social media, launching on May 25, featuring one prominent Czech figure every weekday for ten weeks, allowing international audiences to follow the fates of both prominent and lesser known Czech women, significant in the socio-cultural and historical context of the past and present alike. 


Ester Ledecká
Snowboarder who also competes in alpine skiing.

Petra Kvitová
Tennis player.

Martina Sáblíková
Speed skater, three-time winner of the Winter Olympics.

Barbora Špotáková
Javelin thrower.

Magdalena Kožená
A mezzo-soprano who has established herself on the world's leading stages.

Martina Navrátilová
One of the most successful female tennis players of all time.

Věra Čáslavská
Gymnast, trainer and sports emissary.

Marta Kubišová
A successful singer who then signed and became a spokesperson for Charter 77.

Eva Jiřičná
Architect and designer.

Madeleine Albright
A Czech-American woman who emigrated with her family to the USA after the Communist Coup d'état in 1948.

Olga Havlová
Wife of President Václav Havel.
Věra Chytilová
An acclaimed film director representing the Czechoslovak New Wave.

Dagmar Šimková
A political prisoner who was convicted of denigrating communist leaders and hiding military deserters.

Adriena Šimotová
Painter, draftswoman and graphic artist.

Soňa Červená
An opera singer, mezzo-soprano and alto who emigrated to West Germany after 1962.

Dana Zátopková
Javelin thrower who won the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.

Meda Mládková
Art collector, patron and founder of the Museum Kampa in Prague.
Vítězslava Kaprálová
The first Czech female composer and conductor.
Božena Hauserová
Journalist and member of the anti-Nazi resistance.

Dagmar Skálová
A scout leader who joined the anti-totalitarian resistance after the Communist Party took power in 1948.

Inka Bernášková
Journalist and member of the anti-Nazi resistance.

Hana Wichterlová
Sculptor, representative of the interwar avant-garde.

Grete Tugendhat
A native of the Moravian metropolis of Brno from a German-Jewish family, she commissioned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to design the famous functionalist Villa Tugendhat, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.
Czech painter, draftswoman and graphic artist.

Anny Ondra
Well known actress on the Czech, German and Austrian silver screens.

Milada Horáková
Lawyer and prominent representative of the Czech women's movement.

Eliška Junková
The first Czech female racer who in 1928 drove her Bugatti in one of the most demanding car races in the world, the Sicilian Targa Florio, where she finished fifth.
Milena Jesenská
Journalist, writer and translator, a friend of Franz Kafka, whose prose she translated into Czech.

Lata Brandis
Noblewoman and horse rider, she was the first woman to participate in the famed Great Pardubice Steeplechase in 1927, one of the most difficult horse races in Europe.

Marie Schmolková
A humanitarian worker of Jewish origin, who shortly before the outbreak of World War II saved thousands of German and Czech Jews from Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. She initiated the rescue of more than six hundred Jewish children transported from Central Europe to Great Britain, who later became known as Winton's Children.

Maria Jeritza
World-renowned soprano who, after her engagement in Vienna, performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1921-1932. Because of her strong voice she was known as the Moravian Thunderbolt.

Božena Laglerová
The first Czech female pilot. After prematurely ending her singing career to illness, she devoted herself to aviation. In 1911 she passed her pilot's exam and received an International Aviation Federation license.

Sidonie Nádherná
Czech noblewoman, patron, muse and inspiration for many artists, including Rainer Maria Rilke, Max Švabinský and Karl Kraus.

Hana Podolská
Fashion designer and owner of a renowned clothing salon in Prague, which became a model for all similar Czech companies in the 1930s and 1940s.


Alice Masaryková
Daughter of the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and one of the first female university graduates in Bohemia, she pushed for numerous innovations in social policy and health care. 

Emma Destinová
World-famous opera singer and soprano who performed on stages in Berlin, London, Vienna and Paris.

Františka Plamínková
A politician, journalist and organizer of the Czech and international women's movement who, in the period between the two world wars, pushed for a number of laws bettering the position of women and mothers.

Gabriela Preissová
Writer and playwright, author of theater plays set in the Slovácko region of Moravia which present a mirror for the morality of that time. 

Zdenka Braunerová
Painter and book graphics pioneer, tireless organizer of Czech art life. She frequently stayed in France, where she was inspired by and made contact with certain artists. As an independent creative woman, her lifestyle deviated significantly from the standards of the day and as an artist, she succeeded despite the contempt of bourgeois morality. 

Charlotte Garrigue-Masaryková
An American from New York, she was the wife of the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Her tireless work on behalf of the women's movement significantly influenced the decisions of her husband.

Bertha von Suttner
German writer born in Prague who contributed significantly to the worldwide pacifist movement with her literary work and lecturing. In 1905, she was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
One of the most important German writers of the 19th century. Her work drew attention to contemporary social problems and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1910 and 1911 for her exceptionally impressive literary work and contribution to society. She lived most of her life in Vienna, where she was also often artistically inspired.


Božena Němcová
Writer, collector of fairy tales and folk tales, and author of The Grandma, today still considered one of the classic works of Czech literature. She was among the first publicly active women, whose free thinking and independence became role models for subsequent generations.

Anna Náprstková
Businesswoman, philanthropist and patron, who managed the family brewery and distillery. She supported the many diverse activities of her son Vojta Náprstek, Czech patriot, patron and advocate for the advancement and emancipation of women, including the founding of the American Ladies Club, which became the center of the contemporary emancipation movement, and the founding of the Czech Industrial Museum, which continues to be operate in the U Halánků building on Prague's Bethlehem Square to this day.

Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová
Writer and prominent figure in the Czech National Revival. She was primarily known for her cookbooks and home economics guides, which influenced Czech cuisine and dining customs. She introduced Czechs to a number of previously unknown procedures and thus markedly expanded the Czech vocabulary.


Maria Theresa
Czech and Hungarian Queen and Austrian Archduchess, who became the only woman in history to rule the Habsburg monarchy. Her enlightenment reforms, which included the introduction of compulsory schooling, permanent surnames, and the unification of measures and weights, contributed significantly to the modernization of the empire and influenced the lives of the population for the next few centuries.

Polyxena of Pernstein and Lobkowitz
A noblewoman, first the wife of the High Burgrave Wilhelm von Rosenberg, and then Imperial High Chancellor Zdeněk Vojtěch Popel of Lobkowitz. In 1618, she rescued royal governors Slavata and Martinic, who were thrown out from the windows of Prague Castle during the second defenestration. Ten years later she donated the famous Infant Jesus of Prague to the monastery of barefoot Carmelites at the Church of Our Lady Victorious, a statue that thousands of tourists come to Prague to see today.

Agnes of Bohemia
A royal daughter of the Přemyslid dynasty who brought the Franciscan movement to Bohemia. In Prague she founded a monastery, hospital and the order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, the only male order of the Church founded by a woman. In 1989 she was canonized.

Abbess Mlada
Daughter of Prince Boleslav I from the ruling Přemyslid dynasty. Her diplomatic mission to Rome contributed significantly to the recognition of the Czech state and the establishment of the Prague bishopric. After her return she became the abbess of the first Czech monastery of St. George at Prague Castle.


Princess Ludmila
The first historically documented Czech princess, wife of Prince Bořivoj I, probably also reigned in Bohemia for some time and was renowned for her piety and care for the poor. She raised her grandson Wenceslas, who later became Czech patron saint. After being murdered at the order of her daughter-in-law Drahomíra, she was worshiped as a saint and canonized in the 12th century.





Pictures above:
Milada Horáková by Milada Horáková
Marie Theresa by Lukáš Komárek
Martina Navrátilová by Veronika Bílková
Toyen by Helena Lasovská
Lata Brandis by Veronika Bílková
Božena Němcová by Lukáš Komárek


The showcase of the Czech Heroines series as presented by Radio Prague International can be followed in English here.

Partners: Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art at the University of West Bohemia, Radio Prague International, Czech Centers





From: May 25, 2020
To: Jun 30, 2020


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

Remind me
This event has already started.