Addressing the 67th annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, President Katalin Novák said that support for women should rest on the assumption that most women are mothers or will be at some point.
Novák called motherhood a “privilege” but women should not be forced to choose between motherhood and a career. In the West, she noted at the event held on Monday, women enjoy similar opportunities to men in terms of education, career, and workplace advancement. The main difference “is whether we have children or not”, she said, adding that she has three children. The president said the traditional family, the basis of Judeo-Christian culture, was “under attack”. The family and family values must be protected, she declared.
Novák said that forces were at work “to tear families apart” and discourage young people from having children. Many see family life as outdated, she said, yet “our values do not change with the passage of time”. Families comprising a mother, father and children “are in the crosshairs”, she said, adding that many “look down” on those who successfully raise children. She said the Hungarian family-oriented model was under attack and forces were working to “prevent us from deciding how to raise our children”. According to index.hu, she said that women might lead countries, armies, but their most important task is in their families. There they are irreplaceable.
The president said that people who had not assumed responsibility for raising children “want to raise our children”. “[B]ut we will protect our children, our culture and our traditions,” she said. Meanwhile, Novák quoted Pope Francis as saying that “there are no just wars”. The president underlined Hungary’s “firm commitment to peace”. “We Christians, we Hungarians, we mothers” do not want to add fuel to this war, “we want to end it,” she said, adding that the suffering mainly affected families. On the event’s sidelines, the president had a bilateral meeting with Morocco’s foreign minister.
A record 2.2 million women in Hungary had a job last year, even more than when employment was mandatory during the Communist era, according to a think-tank.
Prior to 2010, governments focused on reducing the jobless number, while after 2010 the government has worked on boosting employment while supporting families, according to a report by the Szent István Institute. The employment rate of women aged 20-64 was 59 percent 13 years ago; last year it was 75.3 percent, the study examining the position of women in the labour market between 1900-2022 found.
The increase is the second largest, after Malta, in the European Union, according to the report published on Tuesday. Joblessness among women was 207,000 in 2010, now it is 80,000, while the number of inactive at 627,000 is also at a record low, the think-tank said. Also the employment rate of mothers with children below the age of 6 has grown apace in recent years, reaching 73 percent by 2021 — ranking 9th in the European Union.
In Hungary, women appear to be well behind the EU average in better paid, more prestigious decision making positions. Unfortunately.