Overcoming gender backlash

Feminist offensive

Experiences of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Poland

October 24-25, 2013

The Second International Gender Workshop focused on how Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Poland have been dealing with backlash. Organizers from the Heinrich Boell Foundation - international offices from Ukraine, Poland, Russia and South Caucasus - presented gender projects conducted in the region. The aim of this annual workshop was to discuss gender education, sexual and reproductive rights of women, as well as tighter cooperation concerning LGBT issues.
You are invited to read the article by Magdalena Grabowska who spoke at the workshop about gender education in Poland:

Between Gender Studies and „Gender Ideology“. Gender Education in Poland
Magdalena Grabowska

Abstract: This paper aims at assessing the status and the potential of gender education in Poland by looking at its three aspects: 1) Ambivalent and contradictory effects of the state-socialist legacies on the perception of gender roles and education to „gender“, particularly the discrepancy between „promised“ gender equality and enforcement of the traditional gender roles by the socialist state 2) The development of various academic and non-academic women and gender studies programs post 1989, particularly its attachment to “western” style feminist theory and pedagogy, and 3) Recent attacks on the „gender ideology“ initiated by right wing politicians and Catholic Church. In particular I will focus on instances of the debate on „gender ideology“; the debate about „gender“ that accompanied Polish ratification of Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and the media discussion on the presence of “gender ideology” in the early education.

Read the whole text in a PDF file.

IVF as a Threat to the Nation. The Debate on Assisted Reproduction in Contemporary Poland
Elżbieta Korolczuk

In vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have been available in Poland since mid-1980s, and as of today there are over 40 clinics (both private and public), which offer a wide range of treatment methods. At the same time, no country-specific legislation has been implemented, and Polish authorities have not ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine from 1997. In the face of demographic crisis, and opinion polls showing majority support for the state sponsored IVF program, the ruling Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) introduced a regulation issued by the Minister of Health. On the 1st of June 2013 the government introduced a three-year plan of state-funded IVF treatments for infertile people, which is about to cover partly the costs for 15.000 heterosexual couples (married or not) in total. This decision was applauded by the people affected by infertility, but did not fill the legal vacuum concerning the field of biotechnologies in general.
The lack of regulations stems mostly from the opposition towards ARTs expressed by the Catholic Church, and conservative politicians. Thus, in the present text I examine the public debate concerning infertility and ARTs, focusing on the rhetoric strategies of the representatives of the Catholic Church, which I conceive of as “a semi-political organization” having a significant impact on the processes of democratic deliberation (Gozdecka 2012:2). Of course, there are other important aspects of the local context which influence the current state of affairs, such as the limited policy-making capacity of the state – the “politics of non-decision” – which makes it very difficult to decide on potentially controversial issues (Kulawik 2009), or the neoliberal reforms in health care, which undermine the legitimacy of women's health needs and their reproductive autonomy (Mishtal 2010).
[...] This text aims to shed light on the ways in which nationalist discourses and imagery are reflected in the debate on assisted reproduction in the Polish context.

Read the whole text in a PDF file.

Workshop rogramme in a PDF-file

October 24, Thursday
10.00 – 12.00 – Session 1. Welcoming session and presentations of hbs gender work in the region
Moderator: Anna Dovgopol
Kyryl Savin, Head of hbs Kyiv office
Anna Dovgopol, Gender Democracy Program Coordinator (hbs Kyiv)
Irina Kosterina, Gender Democracy Program Coordinator (hbs Moscow)
Agnieszka Grzybek, Gender Democracy Program Coordinator (hbs Warsaw)
Etuna Nogaideli, Gender Democracy Program Coordinator (hbs Tbilisi)
Anna Preis, Program Coordinator on Belarus (hbs Kyiv)
Katja Giebel, Gender focal point (hbs Berlin)

12.00 – 12.30 – coffee-break
12.30 – 14.30 – Session 2. Sexual and reproductive rights of women
Moderator: Agnieszka Grzybek
• Sexual and reproductive rights of women in Armenia
Anna Nikoghosyan, Programs Director, Society Without Violence NGO, Armenia
• One step forward, two backwards: discussions on sexual /reproductive rights in Belarus
Tatsiana Shchurko, sociologist, independent researcher, feminist activist (Gender Route, FROG)
• Reproductive and sexual rights of various groups of population in Russia
Olga Isupova, senior researcher, Institute of demography of Higher School of Economics
• Gendered citizenship and nationalist discourse in the debate on new reproductive technologies (ART) in contemporary Poland
Elżbieta Korolczuk, PhD, Södertörn University and Gender Studies at University of Warsaw

14.30 – 15.30 – lunch
15.30 – 16.30 – Session 3. Gender and education/gender education
Moderator: Irina Kosterina
• Experiences of feminist pedagogy: talking about gender in the third sector in Belarus
Elena Minchenya, gender researcher and university professor, Gender Research Center of the European Humanities Institute.
• Gender and Education/ Gender education in Armenia
Nonna Artushyan, Co-founder and trustee, Society Without Violence NGO, Armenia
16.30 – 18.00 – coffee-break
18.00 – 20.00 – Open public discussion “Tradition as unconditional good in conservative rhetoric”
20.00 – 22.00 – reception

October 25, Friday
10.00 – 11.30 – Session 4. Gender and education /gender education
Moderator: Etuna Nogaideli
• Between cultural challenges and reactionary threats: is gender education possible in Ukraine?
Oleg Maruschenko, expert of Krona Gender Center, editor of gender “Ya” journal, professor at the philosophy department of Kharkiv National Medical University
• Between gender studies and „gender ideology“. Gender education in post 1989 Poland
Magdalena Grabowska, sociologist, Warsaw University
• Gender Roles in Education in Georgia
Maia Barkaia, gender researcher.

11.30 – 12.00 – coffee-break
12.00 – 13.30 – Session 5. Cooperation between LGBT and non-LGBT organizations
Moderator: Anna Preis
• Pink Triangle: LGBT as a Symbolic Figure of Modern Russian Politics
Olga Burmakova, PhD student of Gender program European University in Saint-Petersburg, feminist activist
• Mainstreaming LBT issues in Women’s Rights agenda in Georgia: reality and challenges
Lily Mamulashvili, student of Psychology department in Tbilisi State University, queer feminist and LGBTQ activist, research assistant at WISG.
• Cooperation between LGBT and mainstream human rights initiatives: Ukrainian experience
Maksym Butkevych, human rights activist, No Borders project

13.30 – 14.30 – lunch
14.30 – 16.30 – Session 6. Closing of the workshop and search for strategies
Moderator: Anna Dovgopol and Kyryl Savin

16.30 – 19.00 – free time/excursion around Kyiv
19.00 – 21.00 – closing dinner in town
21.00 – LGBT film at Molodist International Film Festival (optional)