Gender Equality Policy or Gender Mainstreaming? The Case of Hungary on the Road to an Enlarged Europe
The aim of this article is to analyze some of the core conceptual and implementation issues underpinning the process of introducing gender mainstreaming strategy in Hungary. It examines the approach of Hungarian policy makers to gender mainstreaming and evaluates the political framing of some crucial aspects of gender equality. Our argument in this article is twofold. First, we observe that the concept of gender mainstreaming as a cross-sectoral and comprehensive policy tool for achieving gender equality has only been sporadically present and this has mostly been located at the rhetorical level. Hungary has no comprehensive gender equality strategy and no distinctive gender equality policy instruments currently in place. Rather, the promotion of equal opportunity on all grounds has become a powerful policy approach in the last two to three years, often neglecting the specific requirements of gender equality. Secondly, we argue that the influence of the European Union (EU) accession process has had two stages, as far as gender equality policy is concerned in Hungary. The first stage, has referred primarily to the de jure harmonization of Hungarian legislation with relevant EU directives, but has brought very little harmonization at the policy level, and brought limited de facto realization of the rights imposed by the directives. The second stage, identified from mid-2003, is coterminous with Hungary joining the different EU level policy processes. This second stage signaled a shift from legislative harmonization to a more focused policy approach. This stage may be characterized as a direct process of EU-isation on Hungarian policy concepts and tools, such as gender mainstreaming. However, it is too early to judge the practical implications of this development.