Anti-feminist backlash is gaining momentum. It is essential for feminist organisers, activists, and researchers to collaborate to effectively counter this backlash.
The eruption of feminist responses to this backlash is evidence of just how important the concept of backlash is to feminist theorising and mobilising. Around the world, journals have devoted entire issues to the study of backlash. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Working Group on discrimination against women and girls released a paper on gender equality and gender backlash, arguing that in light of the ‘increasing misuse of the concept of gender [and] attacks on gender (equality) and women’s rights,’ it is ‘important to take stock of these developments, to counter the anti-gender attacks, and to clarify the use of the concept in relation to [OHCHR’s] mandate’.
In 2019, the European Parliament adopted a resolution ‘on experiencing a backlash in women’s rights and gender equality,’, and The New York Times published an article on backlash with the following tagline: ‘The rise of authoritarianism has catalyzed a rollback of gender violence protections and support systems’.
But it is essential that we do not overlook local specificities of backlash. In Lebanon, anti-feminist backlash extends beyond its normative definition as a hostile reaction or response to progress made within or by the women’s movement. Instead, anti-feminist backlash is embedded across institutions and social structures in Lebanon. This makes anti-feminist backlash less of a targeted response to a singular event; rather, anti-feminist backlash is systemic and diffusive in several contexts in the Global South.
This timely and important three-day hybrid conference, live from Beirut, Lebanon, and hosted by Countering Backlash partner Arab Institute for Women (AIW), will bring together feminist and gender experts to share, produce, and build knowledge on anti-feminist backlash. They will compare counter backlash strategies and build cross-sectoral and transnational alliances among anti-backlash actors in the Global South.
The sessions will be led by leading organisations, researchers, and activists from Countering Backlash, the Middle East region and beyond, including: the Lebanese American University, BRAC BIGD, the California State University, the Institute of Development Studies, Nucleus of Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies of the Federal University of Bahia (NEIM), Sakeena, University of Belgrade, and more.
Date and time
20 – 22 June
In-person: LAU Beirut Campus, Arab Institute for Women, Beirut, Lebanon
The sessions will be conducted in English.
Find out more about each day of the conference below.
Join us on 20 June for the Anti-feminist backlash in the Global South conference. You can sign up to exciting sessions and hear from leading gender-progressive researchers and activists from Lebanon, Brazil, Inida, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.
All times are UTC+3.
- Keynote Speech / 09:30 – 10:30 (UTC+3)
- Maya Mikdashi
- Panel 1: Backlash: Understanding Power Dynamics / 11:00 12:30 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Lydia Both – Program Director at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
- Elif Savas: “Gendering the Far-Right: A Comparative Perspective” – Ph.D. Student, Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Hasina Khan: “Muslim Women’s Rights in the Context of Muslim Personal Laws in India: Between State Repression and Patriarchy” – Founder and Member of the Bebaak Collective
- Isis Nusair: “Anti-Feminist Backlash, Counter Strategies for Resistance and Modes of Building Transnational Alliances” – Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies & International Studies, Denison University
- Caroline Ramos: “Redpill Movement in Brazil: Straining a Re-thinking of Identity Politics Under Neoliberalism” – Researcher in Gender and Women’s Studies, American University in Cairo (AUC)
- Panel 2: Backlash Against Gender Rights: Exploring Global and Regional Perspectives / 13:30 – 15:00 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Lina Kreidie – Academic Director of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Gender Scholars (TLS) Program, LAU
- Amel Grami: “Learning from the Anti-Feminist Backlash in Tunisia” – Professor of Gender Studies, University of Manouba
- Nurseli Yeşim Sünbüloğlu: “Masculinist Backlash and KADEM” – Visiting Faculty Member in the Core Program and the Director of the Women’s Studies Research Centre, Kadir Has University
- Islah Jad: “The Backlash Against the CEDAWISTS: The Case of Palestine” – Associate Professor and Lecturer on Gender Issues and Politics, Women’s Studies Institute and Cultural Studies Department, Birzeit University
- Abir Chebaro: “Misogynistic Discourse and Other Types of VAWP as Tools for Backlash on Feminism in Lebanon” – Gender Consultant and Activist
- Panel 3: Linking Backlash and Crises: Why Now, Why Here, There and (Almost) Everywhere? / 15:30 – 17:00 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Sohela Nazneen – Research Fellow, IDS
- Nay El Rahi – Researcher and Activist, AiW-LAU
- Jerker Edstrom – Research Fellow, IDS
- Nurseli Yeşim Sünbüloğlu – Visiting Faculty Member in the Core Program and the Director of the Women’s Studies Research Centre, Kadir Has University
- Teresa Sacchet: “How Far is the Concept of Backlash Helpful in Analyzing Gender-Based Political Violence? Reflections from Brazil” – Professor and Researcher of the Graduation Program in Interdisciplinary Studies on Women, Gender, and Feminism, Federal University of Bahia
Join us on 21 June for the Anti-feminist backlash in the Global South conference. You can sign up to exciting sessions and hear from leading gender-progressive researchers and activists from Lebanon, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Tunisia, and more.
All times are UTC+3.
- Panel 4: Countering Backlash Against Gender Rights: Innovative Practices and Lessons Learned / 09:00 – 10:30 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Zina Sawwaf – Assistant Professor of Gender Studies, Social & Education Sciences Department, LAU
- Deepta Chopra: “Innovative Strategies to Counter ‘Cyclical Backlash’: Women Protestors in Shaheen Bagh” – Senior Research Fellow, IDS
- Diana Ishaqat: “Lessons and Experiences: The Anti-Feminist Backlash at the Protection of Orphan Women in Jordan” – Communications and Fundraising Manager, Sakeena
- Faten Mbarek: “Can Intersectional Movements be a Solution to Counter Anti-Feminist Backlash – Case Study from Tunisia” – Assistant Professor, University of Gafsa, and the Head of Department of Sociology, Higher Institute of Applied Studies in Humanity
- Sriya Satuluri: “10 Steps Forward And 3 Steps Backwards: A Journey Towards Creating a Gender Just & Violence Free World” – Social Worker and Mental Health Professional, Swayam
- Panel 5: Misogyny, Morality, and State Repression: Anti-Feminist Backlash in Pakistan, Malaysia, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh / 11:00 – 13:00 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss – Director of the Title IX Office, LAU
- Azza Basarudin: “Anti-Feminist Backlash: The Case of Malaysia” – Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, California State University, Long Beach
- Tina Beyene: “Anti-Feminist Backlash: The Case of Ethiopia” – Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, California State University, Northridge
- Khanum Shaykh: Anti-Feminist Backlash: The Case of Pakistan – California State University, Northridge
- Maheen Sultan & Shravasti Roy Nathan: “Reform of the Hindu Family Law under a Muslim Majority State: Intersectional Backlash Dynamics: The Case of Bangladesh” – Senior Fellow of Practice and Co-Founder of the Centre for Gender and Social Transformation, BRAC University / Research Associate, Gender and Social Transformation Cluster, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development
- Panel 6: Workshop: Grasping Patriarchal Backlash: Briefing and Interactive Gameplay – Chess / 14:00 – 16:30 (UTC+3)
- Facilitator: Jerker Edstrom – Research Fellow, IDS
Join us on 22 June for the Anti-feminist backlash in the Global South conference. You can sign up to exciting sessions and hear from leading gender-progressive researchers and activists from Lebanon, Bangladesh, Morocco, Serbia, UN Women, and more.
All times are UTC+3.
- Panel 7: Backlash in the Media: Analyzing the Role of Traditional, Digital, and Alternative Media Outlets / 09:00 – 10:30 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Diana Mukalled – Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Daraj
- Omar Khaled: “Voices of Change: Exploring the Impact of Alternative Media Platforms in Combating Hate Speech Against Feminism in Lebanon” – General Manager, Spot Cast in Lebanon
- Nađa Bobičić: “Anti-Gender Discourse in Serbian Mainstream Media” – Research Associate, University of Belgrade
- Israr Hasan & Sharin Shajahan Naomi: “Online Misogyny in Bangladesh: Facebook as a Site of Anti-Feminist Backlash” – Research Associate, BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University / Gender Expert, BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health
- Panel 8: Breaking Barriers: The Struggle for Gender Rights and Freedoms / 11:00 – 12:30 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Gretchen King – Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism and Communication, Department of Communication, Arts & Languages, LAU
- Sanae Ansar Ech-Chotbi: “Anti-Feminist Cyberviolence as Perceived by Activists: The Case of Morocco” – Ph.D. Candidate at the Centre for Communication and Digital Media, University of Erfurt
- Nastaran Saremy: “Woman, Life, Freedom Movement in Iran and its Regional Connections” – Ph.D. Student in Media and Communication Studies, Simon Fraser University
- Iffat Jahan Antara & Pragyna Mahpara: “Silencing Dissent: How ‘Piety Policing’ and ‘Cancel Culture’ are Undermining Gender Justice Activism Online in Bangladesh” – Senior Research Associate, Gender and Social Transformation Cluster, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development / Researcher, Gender and Social Transformation Cluster, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development
- Panel 9: Case Study on the Feminist Civil Society Platform in Lebanon / 12:30 – 13:00 (UTC+3)
- Representative from the Feminist Platform (TBD)
- Marianne Touma & Rima Al Mokdad: “Presentation of the Study Findings on Backlash in Lebanon” – UN Women
- 12:30 – 13:00 (UTC+3)
- Panel 10: Reflections on Backlash: A Conversation / 14:00 – 15:30 (UTC+3)
- Moderator: Nay El-Rahi – Researcher and Activist, AiW-LAU
- Sohela Nazneen: Research Fellow, IDS
- Tessa Lewin: Research Fellow, IDS
- Jerker Edstrom: Research Fellow, IDS