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



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:



advance the theory and practice of gender equality as a fundamental component

of democracy in the EU (European Union) and beyond; and



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 – 2025-12-31


Horizon Europe