Budapest, Hungary – According to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, Hungary has the lowest share of women in both national parliaments and governments in Europe.
At the EU level, women held 30% of seats in national parliaments in 2018, a proportion that has been increasing since 2003, when they only accounted for slightly more than one-fifth of members (21%). Hungary reported the lowest share, with only 13% of female national parliament members, followed by Malta (15%), Cyprus and Greece (18%).
All other Central European countries – 26% in Poland, 21% in Slovakia and the Czech Republic – also reported lower-than-average shares of women in national parliaments. At the opposite end of the scale, the highest share of parliament seats held by women could be found in Sweden (47%), followed by Finland (42%), Belgium and Spain (both 40%).
A similar observation can be made regarding government members: on average, women accounted for 30% of members of government (both senior and junior ministers or secretaries of state) in the EU, up from 23% in 2003.
But they were only 7% in Hungary, the lowest rate in Europe, followed by Malta (12%), Cyprus, Italy and Poland (17%). Both the Czech Republic (27%) and Slovakia (25%) were also below average. The largest share of female members of government were recorded in Spain and Sweden (52%), followed by France (49%), the Netherlands (42%) and Denmark (41%).
The share of female presidents and prime ministers has never exceeded 14% since 2003, meaning there were never four women elected as heads of state or government at the same time in the last fifteen years – although that may be about to change, as Slovakia seems to be on track to elect its first female president next week, according to recent polls.
Hungarian politics have long been disproportionately dominated by men. Hungary’s ‘macho’ and ‘sexist’ politics have only intensified under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose traditionalist agenda and conservative views on family and gender are often seen as restricting the role of women to household, childcare and motherhood.
Only yesterday, Hungary’s deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén claimed that the life tasks of women and “most secure way to fulfillment” led “through the wonder of motherhood”. A few years ago, Viktor Orban himself stated that few women were able to deal with the stress of politics when asked why there were no women in his cabinet.
This, however, may be about to change: after taking the lead in the anti-government protests sparked by the so-called ‘slave law’ late last year, “a new wave of female politicians and protesters are offering an alternative to the Hungary PM’s macho politics” reported the Guardian.
But the political arena is not the only place where women remain scarce in Hungary: as Kafkadesk pointed out last month, the country also reports the lowest share of female scientists and engineers in the EU.