Katalin Novák: Electing a woman as president doesn't mean a country has achieved gender equality

July 18. 2023. – 09:37 AM



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Women need real freedom in their decision-making, so they can pursue a career and a family at the same time. They are needed both in the labour market and in the family, and achieving this is what Hungary is striving for, President Katalin Novák said at a panel discussion at the Women Deliver 2023 conference on improving the global status of women in the Rwandan capital on Monday.

According to MTI, (the Hungarian State News Agency) the Hungarian Head of State's participation at the conference was the final programme of her official state visit to Rwanda. She attended the conference along with the presidents of Senegal and Ethiopia, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the co-founding president of the School of Leadership for Women in Afghanistan.

In the panel discussion, Katalin Novák said that electing a woman as president doesn't mean a country has achieved full equality for women, but it is a very good start. She pointed out that in Hungary, there are more women graduating from university every year than men, and more female university graduates are part of the workforce than men.

"The main challenge women face is the decision between motherhood or a career," she said in response to a question. According to her, in Hungary, women can choose both, thanks to the support provided by the state, because women are needed both in the labour market and in the family.

Katalin Novák also said that her most important goal is to ensure that every Hungarian woman can choose to have as many children as she wants, so that the balance between family and career is achieved. She said it was a positive development for Hungary that in the past ten years fertility has increased by 25 percent and the number of marriages had doubled. She spoke about some of the measures introduced by the government, such as the tax exemption for women with four or more children or the grandparents' childcare benefit.

Novák regrets that there won't be a female minister in the government

According to the Head of State, Hungary needs more female MPs, as less than 15 percent of the current members of parliament are women. She also said that although it was not her decision, she regrets that there would be no female ministers in the Hungarian government from 1 August.

Katalin Novák was most likely referring to the mid-June resignation of Justice Minister Judit Varga, who will become chairwoman of the Parliament's European affairs committee from August. Varga will be succeeded by Bence Tuzson, whom we introduced in this article. As Bence Tuzson doesn't wish to deal with EU affairs at the Justice Ministry, János Bóka will become the minister responsible for EU affairs in the government.

From Rwanda, Katalin Novák travelled to Tanzania, where she is the first Hungarian head of state to pay a state visit, according to her latest Facebook post. "Tanzania also has a female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan. Talks are about to begin soon," the Head of State wrote.

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