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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 8, 2017

The Other Half of Communism: Women's Outlook

Ágota Lídia Ispán
Pages 89-120
DOI: 10.5840/hce201785

Peasant Women in Public Life and in Politics in the Rákosi Era
The First Woman főispán’s Career in Hungary

‘Woman questions’ were emphasized in common speech during the time of the party-state in Hungary. In the 1950s this was symbolized by women tractor drivers, Stakhanovites in construction industry, or women who were present in public life and in politics. Mrs Mihály Berki, née Magdolna Szakács was one of the first emblematic female politicians who was appointed the first peasant woman főispán [honorary prefect] from a village at the end of 1948. The central elements of her life story were the social and geographical mobility: how could she adapt to the new roles and environments? What kind of competences did she need? How did she acquire them? Did the image of a peasant woman politician with a kerchief change during her career? I intend to outline a wider social context in connection with the determining features of her career such as her being a female, her peasant background and her institutional socialization.