Enlargement, Gender and Governance (EGG) EU Framework 5, Project No: HPSE-CT-2002-00115 Work Package 1 (Executive Summary): HUNGARY By Eva Eberhardt, Hungary The decade preceding the political changes in Hungary was marked by the state socialist political and economic system. All property, land and industry were owned by the state, which was represented by the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party. The state expected women to participate fully in the post-war “building socialism” process and therefore provided basic, but essential, infrastructure. Nurseries, kindergartens, school meals, comprehensive healthcare provisions, cheap and efficient transport, workplace canteens, a network of shops open for 16 hours, etc. were established to help working people and their families. Legislation also assured equal access to education, training and the labour market, thus “de jure” equality for women was established. To raise the visibility of women’s participation in public life, new measures were introduced that could now be called a communist mainstreaming strategy. The process of economic change had already started in 1980s when Hungary developed a type of mixed economy. There was also some agitation in civil society and by the late ‘80s there were newly formed NGOs, some of which dealt with women-related issues. The political changes in 1989 produced a new and democratically elected government that had everything but gender on its mind. The previous quota system was rejected and the election of 1990 only produced 7.3% women in parliament. None of the political parties had a programme for women, indeed women were not part of any party’s programme, nor was the situation of women or gender in any form on the political agenda. Thus the development and the survival of women’s organisations of the transition period in Hungary, was due to the arrival of international and bilateral bodies. Amongst these the EU had a pivotal role, promoting and financing activities on democracy and equal opportunities through its Phare Democracy Programme. But there was no explosion of women’s groups and activities: there has been no women’s movement in Hungary. As there was no interest in having the government address gender-related issues and as there was no movement of women to push for demands to do with equality, nothing happened until the government was obliged to prepare its statement for the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing. Then the first Secretariat for Women’s Politics was established by the state. From 1997 onwards, parallel with the attempts to implement the Beijing Platform for Actions, successive governments have also started to address the EU equality acquis. Thus the process of EU enlargement necessitated the creation of modern “de jure” equality machinery in Hungary. In 2003, the department dealing with equal opportunities became a ministry, balancing three dossiers: gender, the Roma and the disabled. EU Directives, specially designed to fight discrimination against women are now implemented as composite measures, with competing interests of its target groups. It is hoped that the accession to the EU will see the application of these anti-discrimination measures and, eventually, will work towards the development of a “de facto” equality for Hungarian women.
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