Hello world, happy autumn!
Welcome to our October newsletter.
How are democracy and gender equality connected? What drives backlash against feminism? How has Covid-19 affected gender role attitudes in Austria? In what ways do these questions affect everyone's life, including your own? What progress has the Push*Back*Lash team made in the last three months?
Read on to learn about project's news and highlights.
Greek International Women Awards | Award for Professor Dr. Lefkofridi
The Greek International Women Awards (GIWA) were created to recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of Greek women worldwide. GIWA is committed to empowering women in various fields and giving visibility to their contributions in society and culture. The award winners represent the diversity of inspiring success stories of women worldwide and were first selected by an independent jury of experts before the final decision was made via public voting.
A total of 15 award categories were presented for the outstanding achievements of women in their respective professional fields, including Education and Psychology, Arts and Culture, Finance, Marketing and Media, Sports, Business and Entrepreneurship, Design, Environment and Sustainability, and Maritime Economy.
In the category Law and Social Sciences, Professor Dr. Zoe Lefkofridi from the Department of Political Science at Paris Lodron University Salzburg (PLUS) was honored for her groundbreaking research and commitment to diversity and equality. Her research on the causes and consequences of unequal political participation and representation as well as on gender backlash movements contributes significantly to the academic discourse on equality and equality in democracies. As Professor of Politics and Gender, Diversity and Equality at the PLUS, Professor Lefkofridi also shapes the university and social debate on persistent gender differences in role understandings, career paths, and structural limitations.
The 3rd Greek International Women Awards ceremony took place on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at the Pierce Theater of the American College of Greece. The event was moderated by Katerina Gagaki, who is known for her experience in supporting women in the workplace. Special guests included artists Nina Lotsari (performing arts) and Katerina Mina (soprano and pianist), who performed pieces by LINDA LEMON.
For more information on the winners of the 3rd Greek International Women Awards, please visit the official website.
"Anti-Gender Backlash in Times of Crises" at 76th Annual Conference of the World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR)
The University of Salzburg team organized a panel at the 76th WAPOR conference, where they presented their latest research on the anti-gender backlash. In the first paper, Vera Beloshitzkaya and Zoe Lefkofridi laid out a conceptual framework, clarifying how anti-gender pushback can be conceptualized and measured, and discussed a theoretical typology of anti-gender claims.
Another co-authored study, presented at the WAPOR, was conducted by Lara Zwittlinger, Nadine Zwiener-Collins and Zoe Lefkofridi. The study explores if the changes in employment and care work patterns during the first year of the pandemic have also impacted gender role attitudes among the Austrian population. The results of the panel analyses show that the changes in attitudes were complex - but largely followed the changes in lived realities. Women who reported taking on additional childcare responsibilities in the first wave of the survey tended to become more conservative in their gender role attitudes in the second wave. In contrast, the assumption of childcare responsibilities by men had the opposite effect.
Additionally, Lara Zwittlinger presented her research on the "conservative backlash" in present and past times of crisis, both at the WAPOR and at a conference hosted by the European Sociological Association in Rome. Her study highlights how economic setbacks and fears caused by COVID-19 go hand in hand with the dwindling support for issues such as environmental protection and global cooperation. At the same time, she observed a concerning wave of negative attitudes towards immigrants and diversity, as well as an increase in support for the Austrian far-right. The big question is whether this is a temporary or a lasting shift in attitudes. Future research will continue exploring these questions.
Integrated Report on the Contribution of Feminist Theory and Conceptual Framework
The Push*Back*Lash team is happy to present their first integrated report. The report discusses topics falling under Work Package 1 – Conceptual Framework: Gender Justice in a New Age of Democracy. Professor Dr. Nikita Dhawan and Dr. Ana María Miranda Mora led the work on this report.
Currently, the European Union faces an erosion of democratic values and democratic backsliding due to the rise of anti-gender and anti-feminist movements, parties, and policies. The discrimination and inequality experienced by the minority groups, along with recent democratic setbacks, emphasize the links between women's and LGBTQIA+ rights and democracy. Structured into four parts, the report examines democracy and its erosion through a feminist, Western as well as non-Western, intersectional lens. It introduces and analyses a wide range of the feminist theories and provides suggestions for the creation of new norms to achieve gender equality and full democracy.
The first part of the report introduces the notions of anti-feminist and anti-gender movements and democratic backsliding to contextualize current struggles and hurdles in pursuing gender-related justice and gender equality in Europe. Anti-feminist movements often gain momentum as a reactionary response of the groups, who currently occupy a privileged structural position and who feel threatened by the ostensible loss of their power and privilege. Democratic backsliding manifests itself as laws or policies that limit the independence of the judiciary and the media, in addition to restricting the rights of women and LGBTQIA+ individuals. The report identifies several key components and strategies of anti-feminist backlash. The ability to be aware and spot these tactics is vital for analysing local and global power dynamics, as well as advancing transnational gender equality.
Part two continues with the analysis of feminist democracy, with a focus on three aspects in particular: citizenship, participation, and representation. It is followed by an introduction to non-Western and Western modern feminist theories of democracy, such as ecofeminism, social reproductive theory and care ethics as well as queer and trans feminism. The report highlights that the study of intersectionality – more specifically, how gender intersects with other social categories such as race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, education, and disability – reveals how specific forms of discrimination and inequality manifest within democratic practices and processes.
The third part of the report delves into an intersectional understanding of gender inequality in the context of transnational and supranational inequalities. The crucial contributions of various feminist theories – Black Feminism, Postcolonial Feminism, Feminist Disability Studies, and Roma Feminism – are outlined and examined to show how intersectional politics help with the task of engendering democracy.
Part four pertains to gender justice, and therefore democratic feminist pushback against anti-feminist and anti-gender backlash. It discusses a reimagined, intersectional form of democracy that challenges institutionalised antifeminist structures. This form of democracy makes possible the creation of new norms and institutions for an upcoming age of democracy, ensuring the protection of women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights and achieving gender justice.
Read the full report on the Push*Back*Lash website under 'Dissemination' > 'Reports’ or by clicking here. Or listen to it on YouTube.
The draft report on strategies to tackle anti-feminist discourses in the European Union and the member states has been finalised, and is now being prepared for a public release. The report falls under Work Package 7, whose goals are the identification of pushback strategies against anti-gender discourse and the development of effective strategies for implementing intersectional feminist activism.
Gender Five Plus hired 9 national experts to deepen the analysis of the strategies in 9 EU member states and the UK. The first meeting of national experts was held on October 27, 2023 . The meeting’s goal was the exchange of information between Work Packages 7 and 4, which concerns itself with online anti-gender equality strategies and the development of counterstrategies. On November 3, 2023, a second meeting will be held and a common methodology for the reports on individual countries will be developed.
The project researchers have also worked on survey questionnaire development to study anti-feminist and anti-gender equality attitudes (WP2), continued scrapping Twitter data (WP4), and began coding government agendas, identifying pro-gender equality and anti-gender equality issues (WP3).
The ELTE team in cooperation with the University of Salzburg team has successfully finished the assessment of already collected survey data on gender and disability, gender and ethnicity, and gender and migration.
The ELTE team has an upcoming conference presentation to announce. Entitled “Anti-gender and intersectionality in family policy issues”, the presentation will be given at the Annual Congress of the Hungarian Sociological Association on November 17-18, 2023, in Budapest.
The project team is also preparing panels for submission to the European Conference on Politics and Gender in early December of 2023. Please let us know if you would like to collaborate with us.
Reflections and Spotlight
Professor Dr. Monika Kovács, Dr. Zsuzsanna Vidra, and Dr. Enikő Virágh from the ELTE team are continuing their work on WP5, which analyses intersectional anti-gender discourses. They have been exploring the case of gender-based violence against Roma women, as well as issues concerning family policies and the Roma in a Hungarian context. Data collection on the subject was finalized, and the team has started data analysis.
ELTE has presented their first findings on the treatment of the Roma, politics and discourse around the topic in two separate papers. The first one, Violence against Roma women. Stereotypes and discursive positions, was presented by Enikő Virágh and Mónika Kovács at the Language, Ideology and Media Conference. Organized by the Gender Studies Research Group, the conference was held at the University of Szeged on September 22-23, 2023. The paper looks at discourses on obstetric violence, prostitution, as well as domestic and partner violence regarding Roma women.
In their study, ELTE aims to explore how violence against Roma women is represented in the media by analyzing online articles in both pro-government and independent media outlets between 2010 and 2023, and by applying an intersectional approach. The results reveal that while obstetric violence and prostitution are mainly thematized in independent media outlets, the topic of domestic violence against Roma women appears in pro-government and independent media outlets alike. However, it does so in different framing. The discourses in the independent media either argue that a color-blind approach should be followed, or they focus on the structural causes of Roma women’s higher vulnerability when it comes to domestic violence. At the same time, in pro-government media, domestic violence against Roma women is typically discussed in a culturalist-colonialist framing, assigning the responsibility to the Roma community itself.
The second paper, concerning preliminary results of the Hungarian case study on family policies and the Roma, was presented by Zsuzsa Vidra and Enikő Virágh at the European Sociological Association’s Sexuality Research Network Conference – “Making a Difference: the Hope and Promise of Sexuality Studies” – on September 28-29, 2023, in Zagreb. Entitled How about minorities? Anti-gender discourses and intersectionality in family and social welfare discourses and policies, the paper looked at the main anti-gender discourses on the family unit, and how the Roma minority was represented in these discourses, what the main family policy changes were in the wave of anti-gender policy-making (e.g., strengthening the traditional family model by providing support to high socioeconomic status (SES) families with more children while discriminating against low SES families, including the Roma), and how they impacted the Roma. The preliminary findings reveal that while some segments of the Roma population benefit from the new family policies, the majority of them are excluded. This is mainly because the main eligibility criteria for the various forms of benefits are having proper employment and insurance. In the policy discourses, the Roma are represented as having accepted the government’s workfare offer, namely that they receive employment rather than ‘live on social welfare’. This discourse disregards the social realities of those who cannot be employed for not having acquired hard skills, living in remote areas, not having access to child care and other care facilities, suffering from chronic mental and physical diseases, and other factors.
ELTE will continue its work on the Polish case next together with a Polish researcher, Katarzyna Debska.
In conclusion, it has been a few busy months for us. Research, presentations, and manuscript preparations are steadily ongoing, as we continue to explore anti-gender and anti-feminist discourses, issues, and attitudes to strengthen democracies in Europe and beyond.
The Push*Back*Lash Team
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 101061687.
Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor European Research Executive Agency can be held responsible for them.