Women in politics - summary


Women in politics - summary

Republikon Intézet

Republikon Institute hosted a conference on February 29, 2024, focusing on the involvement of women in Hungarian politics. The event featured two panel discussions involving Hungarian experts and female politicians, delving into the present status of women's participation in politics and strategies for empowering them to take on more active roles in the political arena.

At the beginning of the event, Gábor Horn, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Republikon Foundation, gave a speech, in which he said that this time there was no one representing the governing parties. The name of Judit Varga was mentioned earlier, but the idea did not materialise. He mentioned that Hungary is the only EU member state without a woman in its government and that the Parliament is a frontrunner in this respect too. He also mentioned the low participation of women in politics and decision-making and raised the issue of a quota for women.

Presentation by Márton Schlanger, researcher at the Republikon Institute
Márton Schlanger said that a survey of 5,000 people showed that women are much less interested in politics than men. However, the greater willingness to participate in elections varies a lot between the two sexes, and the difference is very small. The data suggest that women would prefer to vote for parties other than the mainstream, probably because they do not feel adequately represented by the current parties. In terms of ideological differences, men tend to be more nationalist, while women are more religious, and women prefer to vote for Green or Social Democratic parties. Moreover, according to the most recent data, more women than men agree that earning money is primarily a man's job.

Political panel discussion: Women in politics

Krisztina Baranyi, the mayor of the IX district, personally does not believe in a female quota and has often felt disadvantaged by her gender in political life. She has found that women's political interest and willingness to engage in politics strongly depend on the issue at hand. These are typically social and green issues. In her opinion, women with the most 'masculine' characteristics are the most likely to get into politics. She also mentions that she has never considered herself to be a female politician, but rather simply a politician.

Ildikó Lendvai, the former chairwoman and leader of the MSZP, observes that the higher the levels of political life (such as the National Assembly), the lower the proportion of women. She also said that male and female politicians face different expectations. For women politicians, for example, the most important expectations are morality and good looks. He considers the institution of a quota for women to be particularly useful in terms of access to politics. She sees it as a problem that the proportion of women in key committees remains very low but believes that voters are increasingly looking for female candidates.

Tímea Szabó, co-chairman of Párbeszéd-Zöldek, disagrees with the idea that the women's quota should not be needed because it would take away opportunities from competent candidates. In her opinion, the quota is not the goal, but only a means to allow women to enter. She believes that many women are afraid to enter because of the "male-dominated" world of politics, but she believes that the world of politics often discourages men just as much. She mentions that her party already applies the quota and that she believes that many women are present in public life, but typically more in the civil sphere. She believes that the main obstacles to women's entry into politics are not the voters, but the parties that put up candidates.

Anna Orosz, a member of the Momentum board and member of parliament, believes that the low participation of women in politics is due to socialization effects, we expect different things from a little girl than from a little boy. And it is very difficult to change these attitudes. She was initially sceptical about the quota, but it was recently introduced within Momentum, and since then she has supported it. In her opinion, women politicians are well prepared but often do not enter politics because they are afraid. She sees women as actively involved in public affairs (just often not labelled as such) and considers women politicians to be successful and, in her opinion, loved by the electorate.


Expert's panel discussion: Women in public life

Ildikó Kovalcsik (Lilu)- TV host considers herself lucky that she has not suffered any disadvantages due to her gender during her career. She mentioned that she always received all the support she needed at RTL after the birth of her children, and she was given more serious jobs relatively early on in her career. She pointed out that her immediate bosses are now mostly women and she could not give any examples from her environment of women finding it harder to succeed in the media world.

Andrea Pető- historian and university professor, pointed out that throughout history it has almost always been the responsibility of men to participate in politics and discuss public affairs. She says that today many women are playing a significant role in local issues such as education and the environment. She sees the high level of support for anti-democratic parties as a result of the fact that they have been able to offer an answer (by encouraging women to stay at home) to their difficult situation (having to look after a family as well as working) after the collapse of the single-earner family model. In her view, girls should be encouraged to pursue scientific careers and not see mathematics or IT as a male preserve.

Dénes Szemán- psychologist and psychotherapist, spoke about the difficulties men face in modern society. He emphasised that about two-thirds of the patients in his practice are men. He rarely sees reflections on gender roles, but rather the difficulties of coexistence between men and women (for example, the increasing role of women in all aspects of life). He believes that there is a demand for political messages of the past, especially masculine ones. He thinks that many men do not get to the point of worrying about whether they are good fathers because they are driven by existential anxiety. He pointed out that the victims of the Bicske children's home were often boys.

Márta Pardavi- Head of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, says that there are many women and many women leaders in the Hungarian civil society. In her opinion, it can often depend on the size of the organisation whether it is led by a woman or a man. She believes that Hungarian leadership and organisational culture are often not very supportive of women, for example when returning to work after childbirth. A serious disadvantage of political journalism is that women are not often enough represented, either as authors or as subjects. She feels that society needs to speak out against the imposition of traditional roles on women and that men's voices are important for this.

240229 - Nők a politikában

 Eu Co Funded En

Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.