One step forward, two steps back. This is how we can summarize women’s rights, which are in decline all over the world, according to a recent report published by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation and the NGO Equipop. A phenomenon of « backlash », or backlash, the fruit of the action of conservative and masculinist movements that occurs with each major advance for equality.
As in the United States when, after the Supreme Court tilted in favor of the conservatives, it overturned the “Roe vs. Wade” judgment which guaranteed American women access to abortion up to six weeks of pregnancy. .
The European Union in the viewfinder
Hungary, Poland, Italy, Sweden. Four countries of the European Union are highlighted in this dynamic of « backlash ». If the presence of Hungary and Poland is not surprising (as the two countries have distinguished themselves for years already by undermining the rule of law, by restricting access to abortion or the rights of LGBT + minorities ), that of Italy or Sweden is more surprising.
The report thus denounces «the natalist conception of the far-right party” of Giorgia Meloni, the Italian Prime Minister. She campaigned on the «right not to have an abortion, abortion which she considers a ” defeat “.
Sweden, known as an innovator in gender equality, is also singled out. While the #MeToo movement in 2017 had a strong resonance in the country (70,000 women had spoken), 30% of women there are still victims of sexual violence. And only “5% of rapists are convicted”. After the victory of the right and the far right in the legislative elections of September 2022, «the new Foreign Minister Tobias Billström announced the new government’s abandonment of its feminist foreign policy”, synonymous with backtracking.
The religious fact in the decline of women’s rights
Elsewhere in the world, the report also points to the religious fact. As in Afghanistan, where since the Taliban came to power in 2021, access to education is reserved for men, where women are increasingly victims of sexual violence and forced marriages and where « Ministry of Women’s Affairs was abolished in September 2021. Abortion is still prohibited there and LGBT + minorities are repressed. The Taliban state alone concentrates all the setbacks.
Bolsonaro-era Brazil is no exception. Supported by evangelists in his traditionalist and pronatalist policy, the far-right president opposed abortion and family planning. By his violent speeches, he had encouraged «violence against women at an institutional level” even as a woman was raped every ten minutes in 2021 and feminicides exploded in the country. His successor, Lula, will also have to fight against the rise in the killings of minorities.
The example of the Geneva Consensus Declaration
For both associations, these setbacks are caused by alliances «organizations from the extreme right, fundamentalist religious movements and large conservative fortunes”.
A system of alliances of which the Geneva consensus is the perfect illustration. This declaration of 2020, which advocates «the defense of the family and the sovereignty of States concerning abortion”, presented to the UN by the United States, is signed by 35 countries. Including Senegal, also implicated by the report. Yet inclined to adopt texts for the promotion and defense of women’s rights, it too faces religious conservatism and the rise of Islamic values.
A call to action for France
Faced with the increase in « backlash » around the world, the report calls on President Emmanuel Macron to “to put into practice a real feminist foreign policy”. More formally, the associations ask France to increase the funding of feminist associations and movements, to defend and protect activists and to make feminist struggles a priority subject of diplomacy within French, European and global institutions.
Lucie Daniel, who partly wrote the report for Equipop, explains: «France is expected to use its diplomatic leverage on the international scene. Emmanuel Macron had undertaken to wear the right to abortion in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Including the right to abortion in the French Constitution would already be a strong symbol sent to other countries. »