Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Concluding Observations: Hungary, U.N. Doc. A/51/38, paras. 229-264 (1996).
229. The Committee considered the third periodic report of Hungary (CEDAW/C/HUN/3 and Add.1) at
its 304th and 305th meetings, on 30 January 1996 (see CEDAW/C/SR.304 and 305).
230. In his introductory statement, the representative of Hungary stressed the importance and
high priority attached by his Government to the Convention, to the achievement of equality of
women and men, and to the integration of women's human rights into the mainstream of human
rights activities. Human rights education at all levels was considered to be the appropriate
tool to promote the elimination of discrimination.
231. The transition to a new political system resulting from democratic elections in 1990
opened up new opportunities for civil society. At the same time, the transition from State
socialism to democracy had unwanted consequences regarding women's role and position in
society. The concepts of parity, democracy and of equal rights of men and women, while
enshrined in the Constitution and in legislation, are not yet a reality. While women
participate in local politics, their representation at the national level remains low, and
women's organizations are not strong or representative enough to influence government policy on
232. A difficult economic situation, falling living standards and economic stabilization
measures restrict the possibilities for implementing the Convention, in particular with regard
to women's de facto equality. While there has been a dramatic increase in unemployment, so far
it has affected men more than women. However, the situation of elderly women is very
precarious, and young women are disadvantaged in the labour market, owing to their lower level
of skills and qualifications. The labour market remains segregated. A rise in prostitution is
also attributed to high unemployment and other economic hardships.
233. Recent changes introduced in the country included the modification of the family support
system, according to which most financial support to families will now be need-based.
Financial child-care benefits are being abolished, and the number of State-sponsored day-care
facilities has decreased. The cost of private child care often exceeds the financial means of
Hungarian families. Efforts are under way to educate female employees about their rights in the
workplace, which is considered very important in a time of drastic economic change. A women's
machinery was established within the framework of the Ministry of Labour.
234. The situation of the Roma minority, many of whom live in extreme poverty, is of particular
concern to the Government. A programme of action is therefore being elaborated to address
educational, employment, social welfare and anti-discrimination aspects.
Concluding comments of the Committee
235. The Committee expressed its satisfaction with the manner in which the State party had
submitted its third periodic report and engaged in a constructive dialogue with the Committee.
236. The report describes the major changes that have occurred in the country and the serious
difficulties confronting women with regard to their rights and their effective recognition.
237. The Committee noted that the report and the oral presentation provided an objective
analysis of the situation.
Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention
238. The Committee is aware that Hungary is undergoing a period of social and political
transition the economic consequences of which are not conducive to advancing the status of
239. The economic recession and the emergence of neoconservative and neoliberal ideas have had
a substantial negative impact on the country's overall situation, creating a feeling of
heightened insecurity. In addition, the change in attitudes towards the traditional family,
with a system of values where the mother is the central element of the household, seems to
limit women's opportunities.
240. Women's issues are consequently no longer a matter of primary concern for the country.
The Committee is aware that this transition period is delaying implementation of the
Convention and compliance with the commitments made by the State party at the Fourth World
Conference on Women.
241. The Committee noted with satisfaction that Hungary's Constitution and legislation
guarantee equal rights to women without any discrimination.
242. The Committee particularly appreciated the legislative and structural reforms recently
introduced by the Government to guarantee women's social and political rights, including the
Embryo Protection Act, which has considerably reduced the number of induced abortions.
243. The Committee was pleased with the inclusion of human rights teaching, including women's
rights as an integral part thereof, in the curricula of primary and secondary schools and at
244. The Committee applauded the cooperation being developed by Hungary with international
institutions such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and the International Labour
Organization (ILO) for the further training of the labour force, thereby, inter alia, providing
women with opportunities to improve their situation.
245. The Committee noted with interest a resurgence of women's non-governmental organizations,
which are extending links of solidarity with each other, with a view to making women aware of
246. The Committee noted with satisfaction the emergence of businesswomen in Hungary, which
could help to stimulate the country's economy.
Principal subjects of concern
247. The Committee was concerned that there was no coherent policy or any powerful body with
special responsibility for coordinating action in favour of women.
248. The Committee regretted that women's issues were not a priority for the Government
political parties or public opinion.
249. Since their specific needs were not being taken into account, de facto enjoyment of
women's rights was undeniably meeting obstacles.
250. The Committee noted with concern the undue emphasis placed on women's role as mothers
without balancing it with their role as citizens.
251. The Committee expressed concern about the low level of female representation in the
decision-making process and in the conduct of public affairs.
252. The Committee noted with alarm that the number of acts of violence and sex crimes against
women more than doubled between 1988 and 1993, and consequently deplores the lack of special
criminal legislation designed to curb these crimes.
253. The Committee noted with regret that the economic constraints resulting from the
transition process were having a negative impact on women's employment and health; female
unemployment was increasing and the quality of social services provided to women was
254. In addition, the state of health of the female population was unsatisfactory when judged
by international standards. In particular, the high cost of contraceptives prevented women
from freely planning when to have children. The very high increase in the rate of abortions
was of concern to the Committee.
255. The Committee noted with concern the scale of the problem of prostitution, which affected
girls and women in ethnic minorities in particular.
256. The Committee also noted the very precarious situation of refugee women, who are more
often exposed to discriminatory treatment.
Suggestions and recommendations
257. The Committee recommended that the State party ensure that the provisions of the
Convention are implemented and that the commitments it made at the Fourth World Conference on
Women are honoured, by instituting a high-level national mechanism responsible for defining and
coordinating a policy for the advancement of women.
258. The Committee invited the Government to take the necessary measures to improve the level
of representation of women in all areas of political and public life.
259. The Committee requested the Government to take urgent legislative and concrete measures to
provide female victims of violence with protection and appropriate and suitable services.
260. The Committee requested the Government to offer sex education programmes to all young
people and to subsidize contraceptives in order to promote family planning and reduce the
number of abortions.
261. The Committee urgently requested the Government to take all necessary measures to
rehabilitate and reintegrate prostitutes into society.
262. The Committee urged the Government to guarantee social protection for minority and refugee
263. The Committee recommended that the Government support women's non-governmental
organizations. It should also facilitate the establishment of a network of non-governmental
organizations with a view to strengthening their actions.
264. The Committee urgently requested the Government to take further steps to disseminate the
Convention and the general recommendations of the Committee.