Gender Five Plus is partner of the PushBackLash Project – (Anti gender backlash and democratic pushback) funded by the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Program (CL2-2021-DEMOCRACY-0l .03).

This project is about actors, attitudes, agendas, and strategies that push back against gender equality and democracy and evidence-based strategies to counteract this pushback.

Key information
Project coordination: Prof Zoe Lefkofridi (Paris-Lodron-University, Salzburg)
Project start: 1 January 2023
Project duration: 36 months
Funding call: HORIZON-CL2-2021-DEMOCRACY-01

Project partners:

Paris-Lodron-Universität Salzburg Austria
Universiteit Van Amsterdam The Netherlands
The University of Exeter United Kingdom
Gesis-Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften Germany
Eotvos Lorand Tudomanyegyetem, Hungary
Gender Five Pluis Belgium
Technische Universität Dresden Germany
Universitat De Valencia Spain
Humanity In Action Polska Poland
Yougov Plc United Kingdom
Tdu-Wien (Theater der Unterdrückten – Wien) Austria

Project Aims

(1) Firstly, to systematically inquire into the present-day contestation of gender equality issues and policies at both elite and citizen levels. Approaching democracy from a global feminist perspective, we employ a rigorous, comparative, multimethod design. Our project enables: (a) identifying anti-gender strategies as well as best practices in counteracting them across space and time; and (b) assessing the effects of anti-gender discourses by focusing on parties, social media and public opinion.
(2) Secondly, develop and test strategies that can effectively counteract anti-gender and antifeminist discursive strategies. Aiming at supporting the quality of democratic governance in more inclusive European societies, we acknowledge intersections between gender and other social categories at all stages of the project. PUSH*BACK*LASH is a transdisciplinary, genderdiverse consortium aiming at equipping pro-equality actors with practical toolkits for responding to anti-gender equality and anti-feminist discursive strategies and backlash tactics.

PUSH*BACK*LASH’s two-fold goal translates into five specific objectives:
(1) Engendering democratic theory from an intersectional perspective
(2) Understanding anti-gender strategies and backlash tactics & assessing their effects
(3) Identifying best strategies for countering anti-gender discourses and strengthening
democratic values and practices, taking into account the role played by parties,
social media and public opinion.
(4) Developing solutions, policy recommendations and context-sensitive tools for
engendering democratic spaces from an intersectional perspective
(5) Co-creating and disseminating knowledge for gender equality


To understand day contestation of gender equality issues and policies at both elite and citizen levels and to assess the effects of anti-gender discourses, the project…

…analyses existing survey data to study trends and patterns over time and across European societies, as well as the stability/change of gender attitudes.
… uses Twitter data as a source of public opinion to capture the evolution of gender and equality issues over time.
… consults the citizens. Through conducting focus groups in selected countries, we will be able to assess social perceptions about feminism, equality policies and democracy.
… analyses violence in online spaces, bullying, hate speech and harassment. Online spaces are key to both anti-gender equality mobilization and counterstrategies.
… designs an original survey to be fielded in selected countries based on the knowledge gained from existing survey data, public consultations and online mobilizations.

To develop and test strategies that can effectively counteract anti-gender and antifeminist discursive strategies, the project…
…conducts in-depth interviews with activists at the intersections of inequality.
…organizes conferences where we critically discuss existing strategies and their effects with members of our advisory board.
… investigates the effectiveness of new strategies through an experimental research design to identify those strategies and frames which increase support for gender equality, inoculate against threats from anti-feminist communications, and mobilize citizens for politics more generally and the counter-discourse specifically.
…employ country-specific theatre interventions, specifically the Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) to engender democratic spaces from an intersectional perspective.


The project is structured into three interrelated building blocks focussing on the anti-gender backlash, its effects, and the democratic pushback. Our analysis concerns both citizens and organizations (parties, and non-state actors). The project’s architecture comprises 12 working packages (WPs) in total:
❖ There are three cross-cutting packages concerning project management (WP12); data and ethics-related matters (WP11); and engagement with the public and stakeholders
and dissemination of findings (WP10).
❖ In addition, Push*Back*Lash consists of nine substantial working packages, each led by one project partner and conducted by a team of project partners contributing to the work; these are described in the next section. All working packages are interrelated and connected: For example, the theoretical framework produced in WP1 set the foundation for all other WPs; WP3 and WP4, which study anti-gender discourses in electoral manifestos and parliamentary debates and in social media, respectively, collaborate in creating coding guidelines, while WP6 uses the knowledge from all previous packages to develop counter-discursive frames for testing them in an experimental setting.


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