Political influence trampling on women’s rights must be made visible

Networks opposing women’s sexual and reproductive rights have reached the core of power in many European countries, often with the visible support of right-wing populist politicians. ’Anti-gender’ movements which are restricting women’s rights, equality, LGBTI rights and equality are reaching across Europe from Poland to Spain and Slovakia to Germany.

The ultra-conservative forces have been using a wide range of means to pursue their own goals: targeted legal action, communication campaigns, disinformation, mobilization of social networks, and means of participatory democracy, such as citizens’ initiatives.

I have published “Anti-Gender Mobilisations in Europe” study written by Elena Sacharenko on politicians and movements who are actively attempting to restrict rights through action within EU institutions. In it, we describe how these at times succeed in having a visible impact on the decision-making of EU actors.

In the European Parliament, the number of MEPs supporting ’anti-gender’ movements has doubled compared to last term: currently, about 30% of all MEPs support anti-gender values or belong to parties that do. Many of them belong to Parliament’s far-right ID group and the EU-critical ECR group, but also the EPP group has its supporters of anti-gender movements. The increase in the number of MEPs who like to see themselves as ‘protectors of traditional values’ by opposing sexual and reproductive rights, as well as legal instruments preventing sexual and gender based violence, also shows that these issues have found support among new groups of voters.

In the study we explain how the combined economic, political and social crises which have been unfolding globally have contributed to this rise in popular support to ultra-conservative movements. Women’s reproductive health and rights are a crucial component of truly equal societies. It is therefore important to remain vigilant and to make visible the action that attempts to trample on women’s rights.