Democratic Backsliding and Backlash Against Women’s Rights: Understanding the Current Challenges for Feminist Politics

UN Women Expert Group: Background Paper

Authored by: Conny Roggeband, Andrea Krizsan

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2019
Citation: Conny Roggeband and Andrea Krizsan, “Democratic Backsliding and Backlash against Women’s Rights: Understanding the Current Challenges for Feminist Politics,” Background Paper, Sixty-Fourth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 64) ‘Beijing +25: Current Context, Emerging Issues and Prospects for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights’ (New York, New York: UN Women, September 2019).

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Trends of de-democratization across Europe and the Americas emerge along with opposition to gender equality and threats to previous gender equality policy achievements. Yet de-democratization is hardly analyzed through the lens of gender equality, and so far, efforts to systematically examine the implications for inclusive democracy and the representation of gender interests is fragmented. Backsliding in gender policies and on state commitments to gender equality, and new forms of feminist engagement with hostile states and audiences also raise new challenges to the literature on gender and politics. This presentation will focus on two conceptually interesting realms: backsliding in gender equality policies and the emerging political space for feminist responses to backsliding. The paper illustrates this framework with empirical observations from three backsliding or temporarily backsliding Central and Eastern European countries: Croatia, Hungary and Poland. The aim is to contribute to understanding gendered aspects of de-democratization and illiberal democracies.