Would the sentence mean the same thing without the word “To”? I don’t understand why the “To” is needed.
someone explained this better than I can in the discussion for "Jsou to staré ženy", it's about being specific about who you're referring to.
What is the difference in the word order? to jsou -jsou to
Does the emphasis change?
Usually none. In this particular sentence it does not matter one way or the other. Czech is fairly flexible with word order. Not completely but thanks to all the cases the meaning is not changed by changed order as it does in English.
We first came across to with reversed word order in Jsou to star zeny (They are old women) in which the point of to was hard to grasp, for me. Putting to first helped me to normalise it to English word order and see to as ony/oni they/those more clearly, and the sentence as They/those are old men/women. Putting those with are stopped me looking for an article or extra qualifier with the/those women.
Because 1) R is a "hard consonant". It means that after R is always Y. The only exceptions are loan or foreign words.
2) If we apply this rule, we get word "STARÝ", but it already belongs to singular. So we change R to Ř (which is a "soft consonant" - that means that after Ř is always I. And because "staři" is hard to pronounce, we change "i" to "í"for a better pronunciation.