Exciting News and Updates from Push*Back*Lash: Issue 5
Project News and Updates
Issue 5
April, 2024

Welcome to Issue 5 of the Push*Back*Lash newsletter! 

According to the UN Population Fund's (UNFPA) recently released World Population Report 2024, the situation of women's rights is deteriorating around the world. UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem warned that despite decades of effort, progress is now threatened by significant regression. The UNFPA report is a stark reminder of the urgent need for action to protect and promote women's rights. And it is a testament to the importance of our project. 

In this issue we will be updating you on project news, highlighting the progress the Push*Back*Lash team has made over the last three months and reminding you of upcoming events. We hope you enjoy reading it!

Project News

First Push*Back*Lash Review Meeting successfully completed

On April 22, 2024, Push*Back*Lash held its first project review meeting, where all partners showcased their work packages to the project officer. This was followed by a discussion of the policy impact. Here are some of the key findings that were presented:  

(1) EU citizen’s attitudes towards women in positions of power and responsibility have improved since 2019. However, about one third of EU citizens would not feel comfortable with an LGBTQI+ person in the highest position of power.

(2) Gender norms remain a factor behind the gender gap in political involvement in EU-27 Member States and the UK. 

(3) Preliminary results from the analysis of X (formerly Twitter) data show variation in anti-gender equality actors’ positions on gender issues, the topics they engage with, and the strategies they use. These preliminary findings suggest that it appears that there is no “monolithic” anti-gender equality movement on X.

Advancing Gender Equality: Insights from Gender Five Plus Webinar

On March 22, 2024, Gender Five Plus hosted a webinar, gathering participants to delve into the complexities of gender equality and strategies to combat anti-feminism across Europe. Opened by Agnès Hubert, the President of Gender Five Plus, and moderated by Barbara Helfferich, the coordinator of WP7, the session brought together researchers and experts who shared their insights and recommendations, to counter anti-gender movement across Europe.

Dr. Valentina Maglietta presented research methodologies with a focus on sustainability, transferability, and impact, noting advancements in EU gender equality but highlighting limitations such as intersectionality gaps. She advocated for increased research investment and democratic, intersectional approaches.

Victoria Shvaher discussed Austria's gender equality challenges, including feminicides and the pay gap exacerbated by the pandemic. Feminist organizations are combating anti-feminism through campaigns like "Not one woman less" and "CatCalls," with recommendations for legal reforms and women-led awareness initiatives.

Victoire Olczak highlighted France's response to anti-feminism, citing initiatives like the "Sexism Barometer" and communication campaigns. Dr. Irem Frahm provided insights into Germany's approach, emphasizing legislative reforms and gender equality structures. Both stressed proactive addressing of chronic issues and resource support.

Reka Safrany discussed Hungary's anti-gender discourse and challenges faced by feminist NGOs. Agnieszka Balcerak explored Poland's political landscape and women's rights initiatives, grounded in intersectional thinking. Tora Dirke Lundberg and Ina Sandin detailed Sweden's gender equality strategies, emphasizing agile partnerships.

Dr. Roberta Guerrina analyzed the UK's Gender Regime Theory within a divided polity and Dr. Magda Szarota emphasized integrating disability rights into gender research.

Nothing (About Us) Without Us! Tackling Disproportionate Discrimination of Women with Disabilities.

Push*Back*Lash proudly presents its second infographic, focusing on the pressing issue of addressing the disproportionate discrimination faced by women with disabilities, both within the EU and globally.  

Although women with disabilities comprise approximately 60% of the total disability population, they are continuously being overlooked in policies, research, and intersectional human rights advocacy. Our infographic provides key information about women with disabilities and offers a call to action for policymakers and researchers. The guiding motto for meaningful change should be, as stressed by activists with disabilities, guided by the premise: Nothing (About Us) Without Us!   

The graphic was created by Humanity in Action Poland – dr Magda(lena) Szarota and Warsaw-based designer Dominika Luśniak. You can find it by clicking here.

Educational Cartoon on Equal Participation: Digital Violence

Based on their first results exploring antifeminist and anti-gender strategies in online networks, the University of Amsterdam team collaborated with artist Beldan Sezen to create a cartoon focusing on online hate.

Based on their research and academics’ real-life experiences, the cartoon illustrates how statements related to gender equality can prompt hateful comments. Through more and more comments, the message of the original statement is distorted. The cartoon aims to show the devasting consequences of online hate including the spread into the offline world. After reading the cartoon, readers are encouraged to engage with its content by sharing their own experiences with online hate, learning about different types of online hate and proposing solutions to combat online hate. Further information about laws and regulations as well as contact information to report online hate are included. We hope you enjoy the cartoon, and feel free to disseminate it amongst your networks.

To browse and download our second cartoon and its supporting material in English or Dutch, please go to the Push*Back*Lash website (‘Dissemination > Cartoons’) or click here.

International Women’s Day 2024 
How can we challenge biases against women in politics?

The University of Exeter has been involved in a range of dissemination and communication activities to mark International Women's Day 2024 in March. Their aim was to actively raise awareness of issues such as persistent gender bias, based on existing survey data. 

Despite a decrease in the percentage of EU citizens believing that women do not have the needed skills and qualities for positions of responsibility, around 20% of respondents still believe women do not. There has been a 9.6% and a 5.0% reduction in men and women believing this respectively, yet as this view sustains, it reflects the continuation of unequal views in Europe. As it is crucial to have more recent data, in the project Push*Back*Lash we are fielding a new survey in 2024 to gather fresh data on the views of citizens. Follow our website and social media channels to see the results as soon as our Exeter Team has collected them!

Progress Updates

In February we submitted the Technical Report for the Push*Back*Lash project. It presents the findings and analysis of the project progress so far. The submission of the report would not have been possible without the dedication and contributions of all those involved - thank you!

The team in WP3 (UNEXE with partners PLUS, GESIS, UVA, ELTE, UVEG), concerned with Dynamics of Contestation on Gender and Sexuality issues is currently coding in preparation for creating a comparative dataset. This will be completed by June 2024.  

Our University of Amsterdam team (WP4) is currently developing a design for a netnographic study of online hate directed towards female politicians during the European Parliament elections.

The WP5 team analysed and conceptualized the historical, socio-political, and economic conditions of the emergence of gendered vulnerability, with particular attention to gender-based violence policies and scholarship on international and domestic legislation in Germany. One of their findings was that antifeminism serves as symbolic glue for broad coalitions for authoritarian, antisemitic, and racist politics. Therefore, it is important to consider gendered vulnerability as intersectional. Furthermore, antifeminist actors try to misjudge gender-based violence and vulnerability as a domestic, private, and individual problem, neglecting its structural and systemic nature.

Gender Five Plus has made significant progress within Work Package 7 (Pushback Strategies). The initial phase of desk research was successfully completed and the preliminary report on pushback strategies presented during the webinar organised by Gender Five Plus on 22 March (see Project News). 

TdU-Wien (WP9), has successfully handed in their Erasmus Blended Intensive Programme course that will bring together ELTE, PLUS and UvA in Amsterdam in January 2025 for an international Theatre of the Oppressed Workshop with students.  

Upcoming Events

Following the Gender Five Plus Webinar “PUSH*BACK*LASH: Countering Anti-Feminism-Gender Backlash & Democratic Pushback in Europe”, another meeting of national experts will be held in June 2024 to discuss research findings from the countries analysis (WP7).  

Our WP3 team from the University of Exeter will be organising a case study kick-off meeting in June/July (online or in-person, announcements will follow). Between June and September 2024, they will join the following conferences: European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG), European Consortium for Political Research General Conference (ECPR GC), American Political Science Association (APSA) and CAP. 

In May, Zoe Lefkofridi, principal investigator of the Push*Back*Lash project, will give a Keynote on “European Social Citizenship in Perspective” together with Professor Martin Seeleib-Kaiser (University of Tuebingen) at the Institute for European Studies, ULB (IEE-ULB) in Brussels.

Reflections and Spotlight

Project Presentations

Over the past few months, Zoe Lefkofridi, has been engaged in a number of events in which she presented Push*Back*Lash. 

She delivered a lecture on the backlash against gender equality for the Austrian Chamber of Labour, introduced the audience to the Push*Back*Lash project, and presented the initial findings. In March, she also participated in a panel discussion on the gender pay gap, organised by the Salzburger Nachrichten, one of Austria's leading quality newspapers. In February, Zoe participated in the General Assembly of the Women's Commission in Salzburg, where the topic was "Politics & Gender, Diversity & Equality."

Dr. Ana Maria Miranda Mora at Yale University and Morgan State University

Ana María Miranda Mora from TU Dresden has played a pivotal role in the knowledge dissemination of Push*Back*Lash and the fostering of academic dialogue through her engaging talks and presentations in the United States in February

At Yale University, she delivered a compelling talk titled "Gendering Democratic Theory from an Intersectional Perspective." She delved into feminist approaches to democracy against the background of a genealogical and normative analysis within the framework of liberal European democracy. 

Following this, on February 13, 2024, Ana Maria Miranda Mora presented "The Politics of Rage: Outlines Towards an Affective and Feminist Theory" at Morgan State University. In the lecture, she explored the role of rage in feminist movements in Latin America and analysed and presented some elements for formulating an affective feminist theory of rage understood as a political emotion. 

Talk with Nikita Dhawan: Film Screening of “FEMINISM WTF”

Nikita Dhawan presented the film FEMINISM WTF (Austria 2023) by Katharina Mückstein, at the film screening in Berlin (Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V.). The introductory talk was part of the “What Can Cinema Do?” series, in which guests from different disciplines are invited to dedicate a lecture to cinema’s potential in relation to the crises of the present and chose a film to accompany it


Have a lovely weekend!

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.

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