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Gendering democratization: path dependencies or rupture in the face of anti-gender campaigns

March, 2020 - March, 2023
Flax Foundation – Emma Goldman Award
Lead researchers
Project managers

Research shows that post-communist transition to democracy failed to deliver gender equality in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Today democratic erosion and spreading popular protests against it make the struggle for democracy and democratization once again relevant in these countries. Popular pro-democracy protests and campaigns provide one of the most important political spaces in these contexts, spaces where meanings of democracy are articulated and evolve. However, contrary to the earlier democratization processes this time opposition to gender equality is central to de-democratization political agendas. Today gender equality questions are far more salient than they ever were before and open a window of opportunity for the emergence of more gender inclusive notions of democracy.

This project conducts a qualitative analysis of the largest and most important pro-democracy protests and campaigns since 1990, selecting protests that have the potential to become critical junctures for gendering democracy meanings. The analysis assesses descriptive, substantive and symbolic representation of women and gender equality in these protests and campaigns. The aim is to understand whether the centrality of anti-gender components in attacks on democracy impact the gender inclusiveness of pro-democracy resistance and organizing, or we see path dependency and a vision of return to status quo ante in gender equality terms.

Countries analyzed are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary and Poland. Croatia and Poland are countries with a tradition of politicizing gender during the post-communist period, Bulgaria and Hungary are countries where gender was generally depoliticized before the start of anti-gender campaigns.  

Project results:

European Conference on Politics and Gender, Ljubljana, July 5-9, 2022
Panel: Gendering the struggle for democracy in times of democratic erosion

Chair: Andrea Krizsan
Commentator: Aili Mari Tripp, University of Wisconsin Madison

(De)democratization and gender equality. Pitfalls and potentials for inclusive democracy in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, A. Krizsan & C. Roggeband

From Round Table to Black Protests. Gender and the process of democratization and democratic backsliding in Poland, M. Grabowska

Gendered Meanings of Democracy Struggles in Croatia, L. Sutlovic

Negotiating transition without women: is Orban’s hostility to gender equality rewriting democratization?, A. Krizsan & D. Fekete