International Women’s Day 2020: tackling anti-gender movements

Europe, Hungary, Morocco / Western Sahara, Turkey, Women’s rights and gender justice

In the last few years, the number of “backlashes” against women and LGBTQI+ persons’ rights across the world have risen. One of those growing anti-equality forces gathers under the common rejection of “gender ideology”.

“Gender ideology” is used as an empty signifier which manages to gather many different movements under a shared resistance to progressive gender and sexual policies. This backlash can feed into illiberal politics, as is currently the case in Hungary and Poland.

EuroMed Rights travelled to Hungary and Poland to meet activists working on the frontline against these anti-gender movements. You can find their testimonies as well as the perceptions of these movements from activists in Morocco and Turkey in the interviews below.

“NGOs are under attack in Poland”


“In Poland, the human rights Commissioner does not remain silent: he continues to give his analyses and recommendations to the state bodies, but many of them do not receive a proper answer or are silenced. So nothing changes” regrets Magdalena Kuruś, Deputy Director at the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights.
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LGBT-phobia in Poland

With LGBT-free zones and billboards comparing LGBTQI+ to paedophiles, homophobia is strong in Poland. “Nobody cares about facts. It is about emotion. It is a huge manipulation.” explains Magdalena Świder, Programme coordinator for Campaign against homophobia. “We have to spread positive messages. Nothing else works.”
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Polypore states in the EU

“Creating parallel institutions, focusing of familialism and operating with hate and fear. Each country has its specific model of polypore states depending on the legal framework and cultural patterns” says Andrea Pető, Professor in the Department of Gender Studies at Central European University.
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Gender justice the “Turkish” way

According to Alev Özkazanç, visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, “anti-western attitudes are very important in the Turkish anti-gender narrative. Yet, we see that anti-gender narratives are the same and local anti-gender activists are reading and learning from European anti-gender movements.”
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Similarities across the Mediterranean?

“In Morocco, we have also witnessed the development at an incredible speed of governmental NGOs. And these NGOs continue to be created by the government because it allows them to have an influence on the ground” explains Naima Hamoumi from the Moroccan Democratic Association of Women.
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