International Women’s Day 2023: Read our Top Publications

To mark International Women’s Day we are showcasing the best publications from the last year on the varied challenges relating to gender disparity around Europe and the globe. Throughout the TEPSA Network, work is ongoing to produce high-quality research on combatting gender inequality in a variety of fields. Be sure to follow us for more!

After war: the backlash against women“, Nina Wilén (Egmont, Belgium)

Many remember Laura Bush’s famous speech in 2001, following the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, about how the fight against terrorism also was a fight for women’s rights and dignity (Bush 2001). The speech was criticised for many things: for instrumentalising women’s rights and liberties to support a war, which clearly was not fought over those issues, for incarnating the ‘white saviour’ syndrome by pretending to save ‘brown women from brown men’ (Spivak 1988), and for portraying Afghan – and therefore mostly Muslim – women as passive and in need of saving (Abu-Lughod 2002). This criticism was important and managed to highlight dangerous misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and hypocrisy. Especially, when almost 20 years later, Western countries withdrew from Afghanistan, allowing Talibans to reimpose oppressing rules on women and pushing back the gains made for women’s rights and liberties during the last two decades.

A feminist US foreign policy by another name: Biden administration foregrounds equity and diversity“, Rachel Tausendfreund (FIIA, Finland)

The Biden administration is not talking about a feminist foreign policy, nor are most US progressive foreign policy analysts. Nonetheless, the administration has outlined ambitious plans for feminist policies across the federal government. It remains to be seen how fundamentally they will shape US foreign policy in action. In the United States, foreign policy has become unusually political. On the right, isolationist “America first” voices in the Republican Party are growing louder. On the left, the focus is also shifting inward with President Joe Biden promising a “foreign policy for the middle class”. Te dominance of the liberal hawks in the Democratic Party is waning, while progressives and a focus on diversity and equity gain sway. To promote gender equality and human rights, governments in other countries have in recent years adopted so-called feminist foreign policies. Does the diversity focus of the Biden administration point toward a feminist foreign policy taking shape in the US too?

The vulnerability of women in the labour market in Serbia“, Svetana Stefanović & Maša Vračar (ÖGFE, Austria)

The European Union is a global leader in promoting gender equality and emphasises the importance of empowerment of women also in the enlargement process. Therefore, incorporating gender equality principles into domestic legislation and ratifying the relevant acquis communautaire has become an essential part of the accession process. Serbia as a candidate country for EU membership adopted several laws, a legal framework and established necessary gender equality mechanisms, but the status of gender equality policy implementation remains a challenge. That is why the authors of this Policy Brief, point to the problems women face in the labour market in Serbia, present the main causes of the unemployment of young women and women 45+ and offer policy recommendations for overcoming them.

The EU as a gender equality actor in Mexico: an active agent with a potential for further engagement“, Sofia Marin (College of Europe, Bruges)

The European Union (EU) is committed to promoting human rights and gender equality in its external relations. Mexico, a strategic partner of the EU, continues to face serious challenges regarding gender equality, gender-based violence being the most pressing one. This paper examines to what extent and how the EU is promoting gender equality in this country by assessing the EU’s actorness and forms of engagement. It argues that the EU enjoys a high level of actorness, but that it does not fully exploit its potential and could further build on existing activities and deepen cooperation with Mexico. The EU and Mexico have institutionalized their relations by establishing a strategic partnership and a free trade agreement. These set the basis for various dialogues, such as the Joint Parliamentary Committee and the High-Level Dialogue on Human Rights, which provide a platform for the parties to exchange views and share best practices in improving gender equality. In addition, the EU finances many projects in Mexico with the goal of supporting the country in its pursuit of gender equality.