UN Body: Hungarian Government Must Act on Discrimination Against Women

19 March 2013

Budapest, 19 March 2013: Romani women in Hungary are in a particularly vulnerable position facing multiple discrimination, and the government must take steps to address this, according to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee). The European Roma Rights Centre welcomed the concluding comments of the UN committee in its review of Hungary's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Hungarian Women’s Lobby (HWL) and the ERRC submitted a joint alternative report to the Committee in the run-up to its review. The ERRC and the HWL presented their shadow report and the concluding observations of the Committee in an event held on 13 March 2013.

In its concluding observations, the Committee highlighted the particularly vulnerable position of Romani women with regard to education, health, housing, employment and participation in political, public and economic life, in line with the concerns raised by the ERRC in the alternative report. The Committee urged the Hungarian government to adopt measures in order to address the needs of women belonging to minorities, including Romani women in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination against them. In particular it recommended the government to apply special measures “to establish mechanisms to ensure increased and effective access of Roma women […] into the labour market […]”.

The Committee also raised concerns about the lack of disaggregated data on the situation of Roma women in general, and urged Hungary to collect disaggregated data. The Committee noted in particular the lack of information on the different types of violence against disadvantaged women, including Romani women, as well as the absence of specific measures to prevent violence against them. It also noted the lack of data on the situation of Romani girls in the education system and urged the government to eliminate segregation in education and to provide Romani girls with equal access to quality education at all levels.

In their alternative report, the HWL and the ERRC highlighted that despite the previous decision of the Committee on an individual complaint of a Romani woman concerning her coercive sterilisation (A.S. v Hungary), coercive sterilisation of women still occurs in Hungary. In its concluding observations the Committee called upon the government to cease all negative interference with women’s sexual and reproductive rights, and urged the government to ensure adequate access to family planning services and sexual and reproductive health services to all women, in particular to disadvantaged women like Romani women.

The Committee also recommended that the Hungarian government take concrete measures to overcome stereotypical attitudes and to eliminate prejudices against Romani women.  Furthermore the Committee called on the government to adopt measures to facilitate access to complaints mechanism at the Equal Treatment Authority, especially for disadvantaged women, such as Romani women, facing multiple discrimination.

The full text of the CEDAW Committee's Concluding Comments on Hungary is available HERE.

Prior to the release of the concluding observations, in their alternative report the HWL and the ERRC emphasised that there has been insufficient progress in complying with women’s rights norms in Hungary: most of the CEDAW Committee’s recommendations have not been fulfilled by any government to date. Hungary did not have a gender equality strategy for 12 years before the current one which was adopted by the previous government, at the very end of their term. Although the Strategy is still in force, there is no information about its implementation, or the implementation of its first action plan for 2010-2011. Further action plans have not been elaborated. The strategy will now be replaced by a new one, but women’s rights NGOs have not been consulted or even informed about it. The national machinery on gender equality has been consistently underfunded and understaffed, together with its marginalised location in the government structure. The NGOs also highlighted that multiple discrimination against women has never been given due attention. Policy documents on the inclusion of Roma have not yet resulted in a substantive improvement in the situation of most Romani women, or have failed to address the particular situation of those women.

The Hungarian Women’s Lobby issued a (Hungarian-language) press statement last week.

For more information, contact:
Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre


Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities