Agency & activism: Experiences of countering backlash against gender justice

Gender-progressive policies around the world are facing significant backlash. Gender justice activists and women’s rights organisations are having to mobilise quickly to counter these attacks.

The rise of racist, misogynist, populist and neo-nationalist governments, ideas and political practices in the last decade has only further incited this backlash against gender-progressive policies. This is also leading to an increase in physical, verbal and digital violence against women, those in the LGBTQI+ community, and human rights defenders.

This backlash is being challenged, documented, and researched by the IDS-hosted programmes Countering Backlash and SuPWR, in several countries of Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. Research of backlash against gender-equality policy gains in the focus countries include Uganda’s 2019 Sexual Offences Bill, Bangladesh’s Domestic Violence Act, and discrimination against transwomen in Peru’s labour market. They also look at Pakistan’s laws (and non-existent laws) about un-paid work for home-based women workers and India’s Shaheen Bagh protests.

This event for International Women’s Day 2023 discussed how organisations, informal collectives and individuals are standing up and fighting to protect and further gender-progressive policies. We were joined by those working in the midst of national and regional struggles in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Uganda, and Peru.

During this event, speakers shared the nature and source of obstacles that gender justice actors face, what it looks like in policy areas, and how they are attempting to counter this backlash.



Sohela Nazneen, Research Fellow, IDS

How to watch

This event took place in-person and online. You can watch the recording below.

Event times

  • UK Time: 12:00 – 13:30
  • EAT: 15:00 – 16:30
  • PKT: 17:00 – 18:30
  • IST: 17:30 19:00
  • BST: 18:00 – 19:30
  • PET: 07:00 – 08:30


This is a hybrid event. For those attending online, it will be hosted on Zoom. Live captioning will be provided by a stenographer for increased accuracy and available to those attending online and in-person. A link to view the captions will be shared during the event.  

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