Hungarian peasant in the 17th century - illustration by Percy Anderson for Costume Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical, 1906
|Gender Inequality Index|
|Maternal mortality (per 100,000)||21|
|Women in parliament||12.6% (2018)|
|Females over 25 with secondary education||93.2% (2010)|
|Women in labour force||63% (employment rate OECD definition, 2019)|
|Global Gender Gap Index|
|Rank||105th out of 153|
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|Women in society|
The roles of women in Hungary have changed significantly over the past 200 years. Historically, in the present day territory of Hungary, discourses on women’s roles, rights, and political access, along with feminist movements, have developed within the context of extremely traditional gender roles that were influenced by Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism. More recently, the Communist doctrine on women’s place in society was also influential. The post-communist era in Hungary has produced a number of organizations to address the needs of the nation’s women and mobilize female voters, and several universities now have gender studies programs. In the 21st century, the entry in the European Union has led to a more 'Westernized' culture.
In 1790, a man named Péter Bárány petitioned the National Gathering of Hungarian Noblemen to grant female nobles the right to observe the Gathering's proceedings. He argued that these women would be better prepared to raise politically active, patriotic sons, but the assembly did not accept his petition.The first women’s organization to form in Hungary was the Pester Women's Charitable Society, founded in 1817; by the end of the nineteenth century there were several hundred similar organizations throughout the kingdom, although, for the most part, they had little involvement in politics. When women gained access to secondary education in the mid-nineteenth century, the large presence of active women’s groups helped win the students a more academic curriculum, rather than one that focused on being a wife and mother. In 1895, women were first allowed to study philosophy, medicine, and pharmacy at the university level.
In addition to the advocacy of women’s groups, these advances were due, in part, to the Hungarian push to elevate its status as a power in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and present itself as an increasingly modernized region.
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In 1904, Rózsika Bédy-Schwimmer (Rosika Schwimmer), a pacifist and women’s rights advocate, founded the Association of Feminists.The group pushed for women's suffrage and helped bring the issue to a parliamentary vote on three separate occasions, although each attempt was unsuccessful. The Men's League for Women's Suffrage was founded in 1910, and in 1913 the 7th Congress of the International Women's Suffrage Alliance met in Budapest. The Association of Feminists worked closely with the city council of Budapest to establish a women's aid office and day care centers; they also published a journal on women's issues that helped to raise public awareness of women's concerns. Other groups active in the early twentieth century included female members of the Social Democrats, and the National Federation of Women Clerical Workers, which sought improvements in the rights of female professionals.
Following World War I, an independent Hungary began to define itself in a “national framework,” and the women’s movement shifted to fit into this new framework effectively.
Following the brief Communist seizure of power by Béla Kun in 1919, feminist groups, and other organizations considered revolutionary, became smaller, covert, and less influential; finding themselves in similar circumstances, some feminists, Communists, and other radicals formed working relationships. Hungarian women won partial suffrage and the right to serve in parliament, while the emergence of a party system of government gave women a new, socially accepted avenue for recognition and involvement. Women were particularly active in the National Unity Party and the Christian Women’s Camp.As their political opportunities expanded, Hungarian women were simultaneously gaining attention and support in a very traditional role: as mothers and caretakers of the nation’s children. Beginning in 1941, women’s groups began to diverge further, due mainly to political events leading up to World War II.
Women attained limited suffrage in 1918 (voting for the first time in 1922); and full suffrage in 1945,but as in other communist states, civil rights of both men and women were symbolic, as the system was an authoritarian one. During the communist era, women were members of the parliament (they made up 18% of members in 1949 and 30% in 1980), but this was merely for the facade, as they had little power in practice, with the key players deciding policies being men. Hungary held its first free elections after the fall of communism, and only 7% of the elected members were women in 1990. As of 2018, women made up 12.6% of the parliament.
Women were seen as a vital part of the productivity of the state, both as mothers and wives of male workers, and as workers themselves. Although women were included in the workforce in a more equal way under communist rule, they generally were placed under greater state control with regard to their personal freedoms, especially concerning reproductive rights, sexuality, and family life.Despite the official discourse on equality, the communist regime did not seek to genuinely address the deep social fabric of gender subordination. Nevertheless, women did see some gains under communism, despite remaining subordinate to men; they received greater access to secondary and university education, especially in technical fields.
Beginning in 1989, women’s and feminist groups formed and established strong organizations which have worked to address the needs of Hungarian women. The post-communist economy has been particularly hard on blue-collar women who, in addition to providing income, are responsible for maintaining a home and caring for the family. Another important issue for women in the early 1990s was the restriction of abortion rights by conservative political parties. The Feminist Network, which emerged in May 1990, has been a leader in carrying on the movement for women’s equality, and the Federation of Young Democrats has been an important political party for female youth and women’s movements.The issue of domestic violence has also come to public attention during the past two decades; an important change was the removal of the marital exemption from the rape law in 1997. Hungary has also ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2013. In December 2020, Hungary’s Family Minister, Katalin Novák, published a video, lecturing women on how to achieve success, advising, among else, not to expect to get an equal pay.
As in most other European countries, in the 21st century, family dynamics have become more liberal, with cohabitation growing in popularity, and the link between fertility and marriage decreasing. In 2015, 47.9% of births were to unmarried women.Hungary has a sub-replacement fertility rate; the total fertility rate (TFR) was 1.43 children born/woman in 2015. The maternal mortality rate in Hungary is 21 deaths/100,000 live births (as of 2010).
Liberal feminism, also called mainstream feminism, is a main branch of feminism defined by its focus on achieving gender equality through political and legal reform within the framework of liberal democracy. As the oldest of the "Big Three" schools of feminist thought, liberal feminism has its roots in 19th century first-wave feminism that focused particularly on women's suffrage and access to education, and that was associated with 19th century liberalism and progressivism. Traditional liberal feminism has a strong focus on political and legal reforms aiming to give women equal rights and opportunities. Liberal feminists argue that society holds the false belief that women are, by nature, less intellectually and physically capable than men; thus it tends to discriminate against women in the academy, the forum, and the marketplace. Liberal feminists believe that "female subordination is rooted in a set of customary and legal constraints that blocks women's entrance to and success in the so-called public world", and strive for sexual equality via political and legal reform. Liberal feminism "works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into that structure."
Equality feminism is a subset of the overall feminism movement that focuses on the basic similarities between men and women, and whose ultimate goal is the equality of the sexes in all domains. This includes economic and political equality, equal access within the workplace, freedom from oppressive gender stereotyping, and an androgynous worldview.
The history of feminism comprises the narratives of the movements and ideologies which have aimed at equal rights for women. While feminists around the world have differed in causes, goals, and intentions depending on time, culture, and country, most Western feminist historians assert that all movements that work to obtain women's rights should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not apply the term to themselves. Some other historians limit the term "feminist" to the modern feminist movement and its progeny, and use the label "protofeminist" to describe earlier movements.
First-wave feminism was a period of feminist activity and thought that occurred during the 19th and early 20th century throughout the Western world. It focused on legal issues, primarily on securing women's right to vote.
Rosika Schwimmer was a Hungarian-born pacifist, feminist, world federalist and female suffragist. A co-founder of the Campaign for World Government with Lola Maverick Lloyd, her radical vision of world peace led to the creation of the first World Federalist organization of the 20th century. 60 years after she envisaged it, the movement she helped to create indeed took a leading role in the creation of the International Criminal Court, the first permamnent international tribunal tasked with charging individuals with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Schwimmer was born into a Jewish family in Budapest in 1877, she graduated from public school in 1891. An accomplished linguist, she spoke or read eight languages. In her early career, she had difficulty finding a job that paid a living wage and was sensitized by that experience to women's employment issues. Gathering data to provide statistics on working women, Schwimmer came into contact with members of the international women's suffrage movement and by 1904 became involved in the struggle. She co-founded the first national women's labor umbrella organization in Hungary and the Hungarian Feminist Association. She also assisted in organizing the Seventh Conference of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, hosted in Budapest in 1913.
The role of the woman in Yugoslavia changed significantly throughout the twentieth century. Women sought better positions within economic, political, and social realms than they had occupied in the nineteenth century.
Feminism in Japan began with women's rights movements that date back to antiquity. The movement started to gain momentum after Western thinking was brought into Japan during the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Japanese feminism differs from Western feminism in the sense that less emphasis is on individual autonomy.
Women in Paraguay have experienced significant cultural change since 1990 as a result of constitutional and legal expansions of womens rights and evolving cultural attitudes. The legal and government institutions currently existing in Paraguay were developed in part through the efforts of feminist organizations in the country that held significant awareness-raising campaigns during the 1990s to formalize the guarantees of women's rights. The 1992 Constitution of Paraguay upholds the principle of equality for all individuals and prohibits discrimination. However, many Paraguayan women are challenged by issues of social equality and status in society due to existing socio-cultural practices.
Feminism in Russia originated in the 18th century, influenced by the Western European Enlightenment and mostly confined to the aristocracy. Throughout the 19th century, the idea of feminism remained closely tied to revolutionary politics and to social reform. In the 20th century Russian feminists, inspired by socialist doctrine, shifted their focus from philanthropic works to organizing among peasants and factory workers. After the February Revolution of 1917, feminist lobbying gained suffrage and general equality for women in society; however, in the 1960s and 1970s, women continued to experience discrimination in certain career-paths as well as income inequality and a greater burden of household work. In spite of this, the concern with feminism waned during this period.
Feminism in Germany as a modern movement began during the Wilhelmine period (1888–1918) with individual women and women's rights groups pressuring a range of traditional institutions, from universities to government, to open their doors to women. This movement culminated in women's suffrage in 1919. Later waves of feminist activists pushed to expand women's rights.
Feminism in the Netherlands began as part of the first-wave feminism movement during the 19th century. Later, the struggles of second-wave feminism in the Netherlands mirrored developments in the women's rights movement in other Western countries. Women in the Netherlands still have an open discussion about how to improve remaining imbalances and injustices they face as women.
The character of Polish women is shaped by Poland’s history, culture, and politics. Poland has a long history of feminist activism, and was one of the first nations in Europe to enact women's suffrage. But Poland is strongly influenced by the conservative social views of the Catholic Church.
Women in Bulgaria refers to women who live in and are from Bulgaria. Women's position in Bulgarian society has been influenced by a variety of cultures and ideologies, including the Byzantine and Ottoman cultures, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, communist ideology, and contemporary globalized Western values.
Women in Panama are the women who live in or are from Panama. Panamanian women, by tradition, are Hispanic and they are treated as equal to men, accorded with "deference and respect".
Women in Finland enjoy a "high degree of equality" and "traditional courtesy" among men. In 1906, the women of Finland became the first women in Europe to be granted the right to vote. There are many women in Finland who hold prominent positions in Finnish society, in the academics, in the field of business, and in the government of Finland. An example of powerful women in Finnish politics is Tarja Halonen, who became the first female president of the country. In religion, where most of the Finnish people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, women can be ordained as priests. In terms of finance, Finnish women have been described as "usually independent financially". Married women, by custom, introduces themselves by mentioning their forename first, then their maiden name, and then the surname of their husbands. The Telegraph has written:
Finnish women are much more outgoing and approachable than the men and often command three or four languages. Their position in society and business is well-respected and superior to that of women in most other cultures.
The feminist movement refers to a series of political campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. The movement's priorities vary among nations and communities, and range from opposition to female genital mutilation in one country, to opposition to the glass ceiling in another.
Vilma Glücklich (1872-1927), was a Hungarian educational reformer, pacifist and women's rights activist. In 1896, she became the first woman in Hungary to receive a degree from the Faculty of Philosophy in the Budapest State University, after having been the first woman admitted to a Hungarian university. Alongside Rosika Schwimmer, she is counted as one of the two leading figures in the Hungarian Women's Movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century. Elected a member of the presidential committee of the National Association of Female Employees (1902), co-founder of the Hungarian Feminist Association or HFA (1904), co-founder of the Women's International League for peace and Freedom (1915), member of the Supervision Committee of the Municipal administration of Budapest (1918), co-founder secretary general of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (1924-1926).
Feminism in Sweden is a significant social and political influence within Swedish society. Swedish political parties across the political spectrum commit to gender-based policies in their public political manifestos. The Swedish government assesses all policy according to the tenets of gender mainstreaming. Women in Sweden are 45% of the political representatives in the Swedish Parliament. Women make up 43% of representatives in local legislatures as of 2014. In addition, in 2014 newly sworn in Foreign Minister Margot Wallström announced a Feminist Foreign Policy
Eugénia Miskolczy Meller was one of the most active feminists and women's rights activists in Hungary from the turn of the century to the interwar period. One of the founding members of the Feminist Association, she served as a leader for many of the organizations committees and events, arguing for gender equality, as well as women's suffrage. A pacifist, Meller worked with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) arguing for disarmament and urging the passage of international laws codifying citizenship regulations to protect women. Though she had converted to Lutheranism, she was arrested when the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944 and disappeared. In 1946, she was posthumously honored for her humanitarian works.
The Hungarian Feminist Association was created by Rosika Schwimmer and Vilma Glücklich. The organization pushed for women's equality in Hungary in all spheres of women's life. In addition to pressing for women's suffrage, they drafted replies to modification of the marriage statutes and urged government response to address employment and training for women workers.
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