The ABCD project: Training Programs to Improve Women’s Employment

Best practices from Iceland and Hungary

According to data published by Eurostat, in 2016 Iceland could boast the highest employment rate for women in Europe, with 84.4% of women holding a job. In comparison, the overall employment rate for women in the EU was only 65.3%. Iceland has also topped the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index for the past several years and in 2015 the Economist named the country the world’s best place for working women. Some may say that full gender equality in the labour market has almost been achieved, nevertheless, Iceland is still continuously striving to improve its indicators.


Hungary is much behind the Nordic statistics: while there has been an increase in women’s employment over the past years, in 2016 only 64,6% of women in the age group of 15-64 years were employed. If there is a chance to learn from another country in this regard, there is no better “role model” than the one heading the statistics and has a demonstrated history of various successful programs in place to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Generally speaking, regardless of geographic location, the implementation of educational and training programs for women can be considered as one of the best ways to promote gender equality and to reduce women’s labour market disadvantages. The potential impact of these programs extends beyond the improved labour market situation of women as the high participation of women in the workplace has, as several studies have demonstrated, an overall positive economic effect for society as a whole.

Therefore, Corvinus University of Budapest and the Icelandic Bifröst University completed a half-year project called the Adaptation of Best Practices in Course Development to Improve Women’s Employment (ABCD). The project was implemented from November 2017 until April 2018 and has been supported from the EEA and Norway Grants (HU01-0016- COOPER-B1- 2017). The main goal of the initiative was to improve the employment opportunities of women to reduce gender inequality in the labour market.

In the framework of this collaboration, partners collected, analysed and published various case studies from both countries that are considered best practice examples of successful and effective training schemes for women. Two examples of best practice have been choosen from Iceland: the “Empowering Women Programme” from Bifröst, and the funding and mentoring opportunities that support the entrepreneurial activities of women in the north-west of Iceland. From the Hungarian findings, four examples of best practice have been highlighted: the Dobbantó Programme of Budapest Bank and the SEED Foundation, the training programmes of the Well-being Foundation, and the organisations founded by university students and career starters, the Effemine Association and the Business Women’s Network. Beyond presenting the case studies, our project team has reflected on some of the lessons that have been learnt with regard to the opportunities for improving women’s employment, and based on these we have formulated some recommendations for promoting gender equality in the world of work in Hungary:

The results of the studies were presented on March 21, 2018, at the final conference of the project at Corvinus University of Budapest when Icelandic and Hungarian experts, educators and representatives of NGOs shared their experience and discussed the lessons learnt from the implementation of various educational programs, with a special focus on their relevance and adaptability in a foreign context.

About our project partner:

Bifröst University (BU) is a direct descendant of the Cooperative School, founded in Reykjavik Iceland in 1918 and became Bifröst University in 2006. Today BU is an institution of considerable diversity, which offers its students quality training in business, law, and social sciences, and prepares them for positions of responsibility and leadership both in Iceland and abroad. Besides academic studies, BU operates a department of Life Long Learning programmes and has run a successful programme „Empowering Women“ since 2003, which aims at empowering female entrepreneurs to-be. Bifröst University is active in research and has participated in various research projects, funded by EU. BU takes part in United Nations programme called PRIME, the Principles of Responsible Management Education. Today the number of students in Bifröst University is around 1300 students.

Read the report about the joint initiative with Corvinus University on BU’s website.


For further information about the ABCD project, please visit our Hungarian webpage, or contact us:

Ms. Judit Fekete, project manager:  judit.fekete[ ]

Corvinus University of Budapest, Observatory Center for Educational Development