European Contexts: The Backsliding of Women’s Rights in Central and Southeast Europe: Who is to blame?


Andrea Krizsán, gender expert, professor at Central European University (CEU) 

Iveta Radičová, sociologist and politician. First woman Prime Minister of Slovakia from 2010 to 2012. Dean ot the faculty of Mass Media, Pan-European University. Bratislava 

Zsuzsanna Szelényi, former member of the Hungarian Parliament (two mandates), foreign policy specialist and research fellow. Europe’s Futures Alumna. 

Ruža Smilova, professor of contemporary political philosophy and history of political ideas at the Political Science Department of Sofia University and is also a program director at the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria. IWM Fellow. 

Oana Popescu-Zamfir is director and founder of GlobalFocus Center, an independent foreign policy and strategic analysis think-tank,  and a former State Secretary for EU Affairs. Europe’s Futures Fellow. 


Women’s rights in Central and Southeast Europe seem to be backsliding parallel to the rise of illiberal democracies. Restricting reproductive rights, refusing to sign and/or ratify the Istanbul Convention, claiming that gender issues are imported/imposed by Brussels, prohibiting gender studies, portraying traditional families as the only acceptable living arrangement are some of the polices and views promoted in Central and Southeast Europe. Using misogynistic language is tolerated. Some media and politicians do it.