On International Women’s Day, which celebrates the strides made in female empowerment, it is easy to forget that many women around the world and even on the edges of Europe struggle to receive the most basic of rights that we take for granted.
So it is interesting to meet a very empowered women from the Czech Republic who is taking real steps to influencenot just the position of women in her own orbit but now seeking to influence the debate across the country.
From relatively humble beginnings Kateřina Zapletalová has become a major shareholder and the face of one of the world’s leading glassware companies – Moser – owns a coffee plantation in Costa Rica and spends time in Karlovy Vary outside Prague, nearby to the Moser Glassworks, London, Sardinia and New York.
“I know I have been lucky in my life,” she says, “but now I want to use my position and what influence I have to help change the lives of other women here in the Czech Republic.” She explains that in that country women have the rights to a long maternity leave but there is little help for mothers that want to continue with a career, that there is no legal need for employers to offer mothers flexible working hours, and that there is still an assumption that some jobs are for men and others – usually inferior positions – are for women.
“Well I can do something about that in my own company at least. Of course we can’t do things overnight. For example until last September all our glass blowers – the foundation of the Moser glassworks for 125 years – were, and always have been, men. There is a very good reason for this. Men are stronger and it requires great strength to blow glass. But there are strong women. In an age when women can box in the Olympic Games why wouldn’t they be able to blow glass? In September 2017 Moser welcomed our first ever female glassblower. She is very skilled and now works in the regular production.
“We need to change attitudes around working times and flexibility for mothers and I believe we can and should do this. Moser has great respect for tradition, we are the only major glassworks in the world to make glass entirely by hand, but some times tradition needs a little re-boot!”
Katerina has also encouraged great change in the coffee plantation in Costa Rica. “We set new standards there in caring for the migrant workers who spend three month harvesting the beans and usually arrive as a family. We built new accommodation and the general working conditions were dramatically improved. I’m really happy that these improvements have been followed by other farms in the region.” The plantation, Sumava de Lourdes, is also working with Costa Rica’s University of San Jose on a research programme to find coffee varieties from all over the world which will grow and prosper in a high-altitude Central American climate.
Next month Kateřina will be addressing women at an Equal Pay Day event in Prague, the Czech Republic. Event organised by BPW , the global equality movement which has 28,000 members in 90 countries.
“One of our best selling lines is The Splendid Collection,” she explains. “At the marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the then President of Czechoslovakia sent a large setting of ‘Splendid’ to the Queen as a present. I understand that the collection is still loved and still used.
“I’ve read that Prince Harry’s fiancé, Meghan Markle, is committed to Women’s Empowerment and I’m taking a collection of our new range (The Story of Colours) to the Czech Republic Embassy in Kensington Gardens next month so they can continue this tradition and present it as a gift for the wedding.”
About Moser Glassworks
The luxury crystal brand is named after Ludwig Moser, who established his own engraving workshop and glass shop in the centre of Karlovy Vary near the Market Colonnade in March 1857. In less than twenty-four years, he laid the foundations of a unique glassworks where glass-masters and engravers create unique crystal works. Luxury beverage sets, decorative objects and Moser master-engravings are popular items among foreign and local lovers of original crystal works. At home, in the Czech Republic, Moser is perceived as the most luxurious Czech brand.