Leadership in Public Arenas

During the socialist era, when the Party held all true leadership and representation was largely for show, women were represented at all levels of national and local governance. In 1987, women made up 21% of Hungary's parliament (LaFont, 2001). With the transition, when political power became real and representation vitally important, women have become less and less visible in formal governing processes. Party politics quickly became male dominated; by 1993 women held only 6.7% of parliamentary seats (8.5% in 1998; Levai & Kiss, 1999) and masculine issues dominated the agenda (Koncz, 1995). In part because of the history of the socialist state's concern with women and gender equality, since 1990 men and women alike have been reluctant to raise these as political issues. In addition, the few feminist or womanist organizations that developed in Hungary after 1990 have changed their focus or disappeared in the past decade (Szalai, 1998).

Nonetheless, women have not disappeared entirely from the political process in Hungary. First, while the more conservative political circles and parties tend to favor and lobby for traditional gender and family roles, others have run women candidates and appointed women to key positions. For example, in 2002 the Hungarian Socialist Party named a woman as Minister of the Interior, the second most powerful person in the government. Second, women and men have voted in equal numbers in all local and national elections since 1990 (Szalai, 1998). Third, women participate heavily in the professional administration of local governments. They make up 34% of the non-elected members of local social policy commissions (Szalai, 1998) and in that capacity were instrumental in the national parliament's decision in 1993 to pass the most liberal abortion act ever seen in Hungary. Finally, women tend to occupy leadership positions in areas where their subordinates are also women, and thus remain invisible in the national (and international) sphere (Koncz, 1994; Nagy, 1997).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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