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Women in politics – participation, decision-making and corruption

Women in politics – participation, decision-making and corruption

At our debate before the EP election we explored the question why there are significantly more female members in the European Parliament than in national parliaments, as well as the correlation between the percentage of women representatives and corruption.

“Why are there so few women in parliament, local politics and the government?” – asked the question Éva Fodor, the Pro-Rector of CEU, in her presentation. “It’s because the current political leaders, due to various reasons, which are in part ideological, in part political … do not want to see women in these positions” – she argued, which she illustrated with quotes from the study, “Női lélek férfi szemmel” published by Ficsak (Fiatal Családosok Klubja).

The experts speaking at the full-house event on May 13 agreed that the macho culture which dominates Hungarian politics is fundamentally intimidating for women, however Andrea Varga-Damm, Member of Jobbik’s parliamentary faction brought up that it would be important if a larger percentage of female voters would tend to vote for female candidates as well.

Whether there is a correlation between women that partake in politics and the level of corruption in a given country, Gabriella Ilonszki, a university professor at Corvinus University added: this connection cannot be clearly stated as the research on it is not yet detailed enough. At the same time, she revealed that corruption has certain aspects which affect women in particular, therefore in the arena of social services, especially healthcare, women are increasingly forced to buy certain expected benefits with gratuities.

At the event, the dramatically increasing wealth of politicians’ wives was mentioned as well, of which Babett Oroszi, the author of HVG’s article on the topic which received enormous backlash said:  in Hungarian politics, the inexplicably increasing wealth of male politicians evoked the practice of bringing female members of political families into corruption. Babett Oroszi added that this practice is aided by the fact that the wealth declaration of relatives of politicians is not public, therefore the wives of politicians could become instruments to hide wealth.

In the political panel after the experts’ discussion, despite Transparency International Hungary’s invitation, none of the governing party’s politicians took part. However, the attending politicians of the opposition – Katalin Cseh (Momentum), Klára Dobrev (DK), Ágnes Kunhalmi (MSZP), Bernadett Szél (independent), Bence Tordai (Párbeszéd), Andrea Varga-Damm (Jobbik) – agreed that the macho culture established by the governing parties not only eliminates the participation of women from the public life but the culture of debate as well. As such, those attending argued for the importance of increasing female representation, and many supported the introduction of female quotas.

The event’s participants highlighted their most important ideas in the video-summary below:

The preparatory study on the May 13 discussion can be found here, while the summary of that can be read on

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