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The Hungarian government’s family policy is about helping out families with the costs that come with having and raising children, Zoltán Kovács, the state secretary for international communications and relations, has written in a blog post. Kovács responded to an op-ed in The Guardian on family support schemes put forward in Brazil, Poland and Hungary, which the author, Afua Hirsch, said were about “controlling women’s bodies”. The state secretary said it was “clear” that Hirsch did not understand the seven-point family support scheme laid out by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán last Sunday. Kovács said that while a fertility rate of 2.1 is needed for a virtually self-sustaining society, Hungary’s fertility rate — while it has increased in recent years to 1.49 from 1.25 in 2010 — was still too low. “At that rate, Hungarians will go the way of the North Atlantic right whale,” Kovács wrote. “With such a low fertility rate, at some point in the future there’ll be no more Hungarians left.” To improve Hungary’s demographic situation, the government is pursuing an alternative solution which does not involve immigration, he wrote.
“This complex policy … provides financial support for young, married couples to kickstart their life, gives a helping hand in the form of financial support for housing and home purchase, secures crèche places and expands maternity leave to grandparents so moms and dads can quickly get back to work if they want to,” Kovács explained. He said that “contrary to Hirsch’s outrageous claim”, none of these measures were about using women’s bodies “for an agenda that is about anything but gender equality”, nor did they include “anti-women” elements.