The European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee visited Hungary 12-14 February to observe the situation of women’s rights in the country.

The delegation looked into the status of the Istanbul Convention, sexual and reproductive rights, women’s participation in political and economic life, work-life balance, and the situation of Roma women.

 

The delegation consisted of three members: Maria NOICHL (S&D, Germany) as the Head of delegation, Angelika MLINAR (ALDE, Austria) and Terry REINTKE (Greens/EFA, Germany). Two Hungarian Members were accompanying the delegation: Lívia JÁRÓKA (EPP, Hungary) and Krisztina MORVAI (NI, Hungary). 

 

During its visit, the delegation met representatives of Hungarian civil society, the European Roma Rights Center and representatives from academic institutions. Meetings were held with Dr Rózsa HOFFMANN, Vice Chair of the Committee on Culture at the Hungarian National Assembly, Dr Árpád MÉSZÁROS, Deputy State Secretary for International and European Union Affairs and high-level experts from the Ministry of Human Resources, Ministry of Justice and the office of the Prime Minister, as well as with the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr László SZÉKELY, and Dr Ágnes HONECZ, President of the Equal Treatment Authority. During these meetings, the delegation gained insight into the above topics.

 

The Delegation urges the Hungarian government to ratify the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence) as soon as possible in order to ensure full legal protection for women in Hungary from gender-based violence. Significant attention was drawn to the difficult conditions in which independent non-governmental organisations and individual experts on gender rights operate in the country.

 

"We are highly concerned that women's independent civic engagement is being deliberately undermined or even criminalised. It is also disturbing that academic freedom at the universities is being called into question. Free thinking and free research are fundamental for Europe", Maria Noichl, Head of Delegation said.

 

In addition, it has been observed that gender stereotypes are particularly strong and women are expected to adhere to traditional social roles.

 

"The Hungarian government's understanding of womanhood is confined to seeing it as motherhood", the Head of Delegation noticed further.

 

The delegation observes these developments to be part of a broader backlash against women's rights in various member states. 

 

Background

 

The Committee is responsible for defining, promoting and protecting women's rights in the European Union and the related EU measures, the promotion of women's rights in third countries; equal opportunities policy (including the promotion of equality between men and women in labour market opportunities and treatment at work.) Furthermore, it also monitors ending all forms of violence and discrimination based on sex, the implementation and development of gender mainstreaming in all policy sectors, the follow-up and implementation of international agreements and conventions involving the rights of women and the encouragement of awareness of women's rights.