The Fundamental Law of Hungary entered into force on 1 January 2012. Article XV para (3) establishes that ‘Women and men shall have equal rights’, while para (5) establishes the protection of women through positive actions. Article L para (1) declares that the Hungarian state protects marriage as a ‘union of a man and a woman’ and ‘the family as the basis of survival of the nation’.
The concept of gender mainstreaming and the introduction of gender equality policies followed the process of accession to the European Union (EU) in 2004. In 2003, Hungary transposed the EU acquis communautaire through the adoption of Act CXXV on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunities.
In 2010, the National Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2010–2021 was adopted, emphasising the importance of gender mainstreaming as the main policy to promote gender equality. The Hungary Development Plan (the plan for expenditure of EU structural funds) indicates gender mainstreaming as one of the measures guiding the funding programming. Although Hungary does not have a women’s action plan, negotiations are underway for a policy action plan for women.
Legislative and policy framework
The National Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality – Guidelines and Objectives 2010–2021 (Nők és Férfiak Társadalmi Egyenlőségét Elősegítő Nemzeti Stratégia - Irányok és Célok 2010-2021) was approved by the government in 2010 . Its objectives are to be achieved by mainstreaming gender into the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation phases of political processes. For the first two years (2010–2011), the strategy defined six objectives:
- elimination of gender inequalities in wages and employment;
- support for work-life balance;
- support for the reduction of gender imbalance in participation in political and economic decision-making processes, and in science;
- effective prevention and combating of gender-based violence;
- support for the fight against gender-based stereotypes; and
- commitment to increasing professional skills through training, awareness-raising, gender-sensitive budgeting and sex-disaggregated data.
However, the strategy was not implemented and consequently, there have been no progress reports or evaluation of these objectives.
In 2013, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, reporting on the institutional mechanisms of gender machinery and on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Hungary, highlighted several reasons for concern, including ‘the absence of partnerships with the various women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in implementing the Convention’. The Committee recommended ‘ensur[ing] the necessary financial, technical and human resources for the Department of Family Policy of the Ministry of Human Resources to discharge its mandate and to complete the establishment of the envisaged entities for the advancement of women, in particular the Council for Social Equality among Women and Men’ .
Responsibility for gender equality at the national level belongs to the Ministry of Human Capacities, formerly the Ministry of Human Resources. This Ministry has a broad scope of responsibility, including education, health, social protection, family, youth and sports, as defined in Governmental Order 94/2018 (V.22) .
Within the Ministry, two departments are responsible for gender equality issues: the Family and Women’s Policy Department (Család- és Nőpolitikai Főosztály), established in 2014; and the Department of Opportunity Programmes (Esélyteremtési Főosztály), established in 2010. Both departments belong to the State Secretariat of Family and Youth.
Within the Family and Women’s Policy Department, a Unit for Women’s Policy (Nőpolitikai Osztály) deals with gender equality and gender mainstreaming. Issues related to violence against women are dealt with by the Department of Opportunity Programmes. The Unit for Women’s Policy drafts and reviews gender equality and anti-discrimination legislation and policy, as well as managing EU and international affairs in those fields. According to the Ministry of Human Capacities, other government departments regularly consult the Family and Women’s Policy Department when drafting policies, which typically results in the adjustment of government policy.
The Women’s Rights Thematic Working Group (Nők Jogaiért Felelős Munkacsoport) within the Human Rights Roundtable (Emberi Jogi Kerekasztal) in the Ministry of Justice is an ad hoc body for coordinating gender mainstreaming.
Independent Gender Equality Body
The Equal Treatment Authority (Egyenlő Bánásmód Hatóság – EBH) was established by Act CXXV of 2003 on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunities. It ensures compliance with equal treatment principles by state and non-state actors. The Authority deals with the so-called individual protected characteristics: gender, ethnic origin, race, skin colour, age, mother tongue, disability, state of health, motherhood (pregnancy) or fatherhood, family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, social origin, financial status, religious or ideological beliefs, political or other opinion, part-time or fixed-term employment status, and membership of a representative organisation. In 2018, the Authority handled almost 1,000 complaints and rendered 315 public administration decisions.
The EBH can initiate proceedings against an employer/public institution at the request of an individual. If the person filing the request is proven right, the Authority can order the termination of the situation, prohibit its future occurrence, publish the decision and impose a fine.
No representative elected bodies exist in Hungary nor is there any regular reporting to representative elected bodies on the progress of gender equality efforts. However, one brief report on female employment was produced by the Office of the Hungarian Parliament in March 2017 .
Methods and tools
According to the information provided by the Ministry of Human Capacities on gender mainstreaming methods and tools, it has become customary to consult the relevant stakeholders in the gender equality field, while sex-disaggregated data are available for labour market issues. There is no regular monitoring or systematic analysis of the development of gender mainstreaming actions, or gender equality mechanisms and policies.
Training and awareness-raising
According to information provided by the Ministry of Human Capacities, training and awareness-raising campaigns were organised in the field of domestic violence and women’s employment opportunities. The Ministry also reported gender equality training for civil servants, noting that 16 employees participated in training that lasted 24 hours over the course of one year.
Sex-disaggregated data on some of the most important population and economy-related issues are available on the website of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (HCSO - Központi Statisztikai Hivatal). In relation to gender differences in the different forms of work, gender-sensitive statistical analysis has highlighted the inequality of domestic labour carried out by women and men . There is, however, no legal obligation or any other kind of agreement in place for the HCSO or other bodies to collect data disaggregated by sex or disseminate gender statistics.
Since 2001, the HCSO has issued a yearbook of data on women and men, titled ‘Women and Men in Hungary’ (Nők és férfiak Magyarországon). The table of contents is available free-of-charge online, including data from 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Further data are available in print format, for a fee. The publications contain gender statistics on the population, health and healthcare, education, research and innovation, social protection, employment, wages, consumption and pensions, crime and tourism.
No other public institution is actively producing sex-disaggregated data. The Centre for Economic and Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences issues a freely downloadable annual publication on ‘The Hungarian Labour Market’ (Munkaerőpiaci Tükör), providing employment-related longitudinal data, some of which are available in sex-disaggregated form. The last issue published in 2018 focuses on women in the labour market and contains sex-disaggregated data on economic activity for the years 1980–2017 (including parental leaves).
Sex-disaggregated data are freely available online in the time-series data tables of the HCSO for the most important demographic, labour and economic data. The longitudinal statistical tables do not contain sex-disaggregated data on economic activity and average earnings (data for 1960–2017) or on the use of social benefits (data for 1960–2017). However, sex-disaggregated data by region (data for 1992–2017) are available in the tables on: economic activity of the population aged 15–74; number of employed by the highest level of education, age and economic sector (from 2008); number of unemployed; and economically active population by age and highest level of education.
Country-wide, sex-disaggregated data are also available for 1998–2017, on full-time and part-time employment, the duration and nature of the employment contract. Beyond the data published on the HCSO website (Stadat), the most recent issue (2017) of The Hungarian Labour Market (redacted by the Centre for Economic and Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) contains sex-disaggregated data on economic activity for 1980–2017 (including parental leave). The HCSO organised a conference on household, voluntary and invisible work in 2016 and subsequently published selected conference papers in 2017.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2013). Concluding observations. CEDAW/C/HUN/CO/7-8.
Fazekas, K. and János, K. (Eds.) (2017). The Hungarian Labour Market. Budapest: Institute for Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
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