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25 Jan 2019 - 27 Mar 2019

Revolution Begins at Home: The Women of Czech Dissent

The new exhibition at the Vitrínka Gallery presents portrayals of 21 women who actively stood up to the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s and 1980s and the ways in which women engaged in the different currents of political and cultural resistance. It commemorates the 42nd anniversary of the publication of the Charter 77 Declaration, which called on the Czechoslovak government to comply with international human rights commitments it had signed up to in the Helsinki Final Act in 1975.

History is often a story of political events where men play the main part. But during the Normalization regime in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s women became an integral part of the dissent movement and played an important role in its activities against the Communist regime. A large part of Charter 77 activities took place in the apartments, which was one of the main reasons that women could be so active in the movement. The sharp divide between the private and public sphere was erased. Flats hosted meetings of the speakers, home seminars and discussions, it was there that petitions and other documents were signed and distributed, visitors and foreign journalists were received, and where secret samizdat documents and smuggled materials from abroad were hidden.

With one third among signatories, women formed a solid part of Charter 77. There were also eleven women (and twenty three men) among Charter 77 speakers, the most visible and exposed position in the movement. The speakers were the target of constant attention from the State Security and in some cases subject to violence. Although women were subjected to physical beatings less than men, the State Security had other ways how to torture them. Women dissidents were often under the threat of their children being taken away by the social services. Women bodies, intimacy and sexuality were used by the Secret Police as a specific form of violence directed at women. On the other hand, women made use of everyday situations to fluster the police and agents. Prams and wraps were used to smuggle and transport illegal materials, identical shopping bags to swap documents. The role of caring mothers helped to make these women to some extent invisible to the police.


25 January - 27 March 2019
Vitrínka Gallery, Czech Centre London, 30 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8 4QY

Opening times: Mon-Fri: 10 am – 6 pm 





Bytová revolta: Jak ženy dělaly dissent (Revolution Begins At Home: The Women of Czech Dissent) which portraits the experience of 21 women who stood up to the regime through their narratives and memories. They all contributed to our understanding of the ways in which women engaged in the different currents of the Czech dissident manifesto Charter 77, in both, large cities and in the countryside.

In Czech only. 

Price: £10


The posters were published by the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Czech Centre London, with the support of the Czech Academy of Sciences.










Vitrínka Gallery, Czech Centre London, 30 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W84QY


From: 25 Jan 2019
To: 27 Mar 2019


Czech Centre

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