Over the past 20 years, anti-democratic transnational movements against women’s rights and gender equality have grown in strength across Europe. Given the transnational context of this backlash and the secrecy behind it, the role of investigative journalists is crucial in investigating these attacks and understanding the funding and logic that drives them.
In this talk, Tatev Hovhannisyan presented a number of openDemocracy’s investigations, according to which the backlash in Europe is well-organized and extensively funded by transnational actors, including US Christian conservatives. She walked us through these investigations, which have revealed how cash from these actors is fueling anti-gender campaigns in Europe, and introduce the first large dataset created by openDemocracy. Then, she talked about the strategies and tactics used by anti-gender groups, before presenting a list of the top spenders' in the region and the biggest funders of these groups. At the end of the presentation, Hovhannisyan opened the floor for a discussion on “What’s next?”
This conversation is vital in light of recent far-right victories in Europe. In 2022, right-wing politicians have formed governments in Sweden and Italy, have been gaining traction in France and Germany, and are ruling in Hungary and Poland. In these countries, far-right parties have been actively collaborating cross-nationally and cross-regionally, including with the US. The idea of the discussion was to look at the connections between the populist resurgence in Europe and US funding, thinking forward to what’s next.
Tatev Hovhannisyan is a feminist investigative journalist. Currently, she is openDemocracy’s Europe and Eurasia editor on the Tracking the Backlash project. Her writing has appeared in many international media outlets, including the BBC, Euronews, The Guardian, Mother Jones and Voice of America. Before joining openDemocracy, she worked for ten years, mainly as an editor, at leading Armenian media outlets. In 2022, she won an Emma Goldman Award for innovative research on feminist and inequality issues in Europe.
Mieke Verloo, Professor for Comparative Politics and Inequality Issues at Radboud University and Non-Resident Permanent Fellow at the IWM, provided the comment and moderated the discussion.