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The Backlash (Anti-Gender Strategies & Discourses), its Effects and the Pushback (Counter-Strategies)


Gender equality has never been so high on the European Union (EU)’s and the United Nation (UN)’s agendas. While feminists across Europe and the world have achieved significant – albeit slow – progress during the last decades, we are currently witnessing a changed and changing reality in Europe and beyond: on the one hand, since the 2010s, anti-feminist and anti-gender gender discourses have proliferated. On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionally affected women’s and girls’ lives, showing how easily the hard-won progress for women’s rights can be reversed. While aiming at keeping people safe at home, lockdown measures amplified gender-based violence. At the same time, the unprecedented digitalization of our daily life due to Covid-19 (expanded use of online communication tools) increased the risk of gender based-online violence and the diffusion of misogynist narratives. Notwithstanding rollbacks in gender equality, the Covid-19 crisis provides Europe and the world opportunities for change: gender equality is a necessity for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery and for resilient, just, and inclusive societies1; more fundamentally, however, gender equality is a precondition for democracy and as such it is also central to the Union’s existence and its future development. Against this background, our project proposes a solid democratic pushback against the backlash. The overarching goal of PUSH*BACK*LASH is two-fold:

· To advance the theory and practice of gender equality as a fundamental component of democracy in the EU (European Union) and beyond; and

· by engendering democracy intersectionally, to counter-act anti-gender backlash discourses and tactics and to strengthen democracy and spaces of democratic participation in the Union as a whole.

In the following, we translate our two-fold goal into 5 specific objectives and contextualize them in the Call:

1)     Engendering democratic theory from an intersectional perspective.

2)     Understanding anti-gender discursive strategies and backlash tactics & assessing their effects.

3) Identifying best strategies for countering anti-gender discourses and strengthening democratic         values and practices, taking into account the role played by parties, social media and public opinion.

4)Developing solutions, policy recommendations and context-sensitive tools for engendering     democratic spaces from an intersectional perspective.

5) Co-creating and disseminating knowledge for gender equality.


2023-01-01 – 2026-12-31


Horizon Europe