Women’s Rights in Hungary Call for Improvement


BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary is located in Central Europe and has a population of about 9.6 million people. The country became a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. Joining the E.U. stimulated political and economic development in Hungary. One of the requirements for the country to be a member of the E.U. was that Hungary had to have “stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.” The guarantee of human rights includes an obligation to respect women’s rights in Hungary.

Human Rights

Amnesty International defines fundamental human rights as those that include “the right to live free from violence and discrimination, to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to be educated, to own property, to vote and to earn an equal wage.”

In May 2020, the Hungarian government denied ratification of a treaty known as the Council of Europe Convention on Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, or “the Istanbul Convention.” This treaty would protect women’s rights in Hungary. The Istanbul Convention is an international treaty that prevents and combats violence against women. The Hungarian government refused to ratify the treaty because it is afraid that it will encourage illegal migration and homosexuality. At the same time, the Hungarian government stated that women’s rights in Hungary are already protected despite arguments to the contrary from women’s rights groups.

Gender Equality Index

In 2020, Hungary reached “53 out of 100 points”, making it 27 in the E.U. on the Gender Equality Index.  However, compared to previous years, Hungary has made slight progress. Since 2010, Hungary’s overall score increased by 0.6 points. Since 2017, the score grew 1.1 points. However, despite the marginal development in the Gender Equality Index, the country decreased by three places in rank since 2010. This signals that progress, when measured by absolute points, however, might not be commensurate with progress in the region over the same period of time.

Labor Force Participation Rates

According to the International Labour Organization, in 2019, the female labor force participation rate in Hungary for ages 15-24 was 26.86%. In 2016, it was 28.25%. Therefore, the data show that the labor force participation rate for the selected group decreased between 2016 and 2019. In 2019, 37% of males participated in the labor force, up only slightly from 2016 where 36.52% participated.

Also, the statistics indicate that in 2010, 27.53% of males between ages 15-24 participated in the labor force, compared with 21.11% of females at the same time. The male labor force participation rate for this group is significantly and consistently higher than for females. In recent years, the male rates have continued to grow even though the female rates have not.

Gender Wage Gap

Furthermore, collected Eurostat statistics reveal that the average pay gap between men and women in Hungary was 18.2% in 2019. The difference between the pay gap was 14.2% in 2018 and 15.9% in 2017. Moreover, there was a 17.6% difference in 2010. While observing the statistics, it is clear that the pay gap between men and women is higher in 2019 than in 2010.

Despite the paradoxical rise and fall of the figures where over certain years the gap seems to be closing and others rising, the rise in recent years appears most relevant as a sign of an immediate trend. Additionally, because the wage gap is as high as it is, the financial, income-based impact of the pandemic will likely be exacerbated for Hungarian women as a whole compared to their male counterparts.

Women for Women Together Against Violence Association

The Women for Women Together Against Violence Association (NANE, in Hungarian) began in 1994 with the aspiration to combat violence against women and children. The organization focuses on individual assistance, which is provided primarily over the phone by staff and volunteers. The NANE helpline receives about 2,000 calls each year about abuse-related issues. In addition, the organization provides lectures, workshops and exhibitions to educate people about women’s rights in Hungary.

In the case of women’s rights in Hungary, the overall situation calls for greater work for gender equality. The pay gap and labor force participation rate differences between men and women are increasing in the country. To meet its obligations, the government of Hungary has diplomatic and economic incentives to take action regarding this matter. Currently, nongovernmental organizations and governmental organizations work to combat violence against women. As these organizations improve the conditions regarding women’s rights in Hungary, the promise of greater progress for all offers hope for women in Hungary, who currently make up 52.4% of the nation’s overall population.

Tofig Ismayilzada
Photo: Flickr


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