SPP Hosts Conference on Women in Hungarian Politics

November 15, 2013

Challenges and strategies for advancing women's role in Hungarian politics ahead of next year's elections were the focus of a conference hosted by SPP.

The November 15 conference, organized in partnership with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Central European University's School of Public Policy, brought together representatives from Hungary's main political parties, members of parliament, policy makers, academics, civil society and the media. International experts, including members of parliament from the Netherlands and Sweden also shared their experiences.

In her opening remarks, Karin Olofsdotter, Ambassador of Sweden to Hungary, spoke of the correlation between the growth of gender equality in societies and improvements in overall social standards. Sweden now reports an employment level of 76% among women, providing a boost to the economy at large. If a similar level of women's employment were repeated in all European states, a rise of between 13 and 25% of GDP might be experienced across the EU. Olfsdotter also noted that the country with the highest rate of women's participation in politics in the worlds is currently Rwanda, with 63% of parliamentary representatives being women.

With just 8.8% female representation in parliamentary politics, Hungary comes at the bottom of the scale among EU member states. It falls short of UN's Beijing target of 30% and is even further from reaching the Council of Europe's recommendation of 40%. According to Alija van Heel of OSCE/ODIHR, if current levels of progress persist, it will be another 50 years before gender parity in politics has been achieved.

Speaking about the severe lack of women's participation in Hungary, Bernadett Szel of LMP(Politics Can Be Different) said: "As long as parliament is owned by old men in grey suits, we will never be able to talk about and effectively address our concerns."

"There are many policy measures political parties can take to increase women's political participation, such as advocating for specific legislative measures, introducing voluntary gender quotas for parties' candidate lists, implementing gender action plans and establishing funds to support the campaigns of women," said Nathalie Tagwerker, Deputy Head of ODIHR's Democratization Department. "Most importantly, political parties must recognize their role and responsibility in adopting and implementing such policy strategies."

For the conference report please click here